Living in Australia we are all regularly reminded of the dangers of prolonged exposure to the sun. While that’s undoubtedly true, it’s worth keeping in mind that there are many positive health benefits that also come from exposure to sunlight. For a start, it’s critical for the production of vitamin D in the body. Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin when it’s exposed to sunlight.
Recent research in Mongolia suggests that vitamin D supplements given to children that are deprived of naturally occurring vitamin D can reduce colds by up to 50%. It has also been found to reduce the incidence of Multiple Sclerosis and breast and colorectal cancer as well as having positive effects on bone health and blood pressure. Vitamin D deficiency is not usually a problem in a sunny country like Australia but it has been found in cultures with an over-reliance on sunscreen, which suppresses the benefits of sun exposure.
Most adults will get their daily requirement with 5-10 minutes in the sun on 4 or 5 days a week. It is also found in oily fish such as salmon or sardines, or in some vitamin D-fortified dairy foods.