How the Sun Impacts Your Physical and Mental Health

Katie LairdPsychotherapy

As it starts to feel more like spring in Calgary, most of us are looking forward to spending more time outside and enjoying the sunshine. Many individuals notice a difference in their mood and overall well-being as they head into the spring/summer months, and for good reason. Sunlight helps the body produce vitamin D, which offers a host of physical and mental health benefits.

Mental Health Benefits
Many studies have found a strong connection between vitamin D deficiencies and an increased risk in various mental health disorders.

  • Several studies have found lower levels of vitamin D in people who have depression, and that vitamin D supplementation, either through sunlight, food, or supplements, can reduce rates of depression and improve symptoms.
  • Sunlight plays a big part in Seasonal Affective Disorder, and this condition has been found to affect people living farther North in places with fewer hours of daylight significantly more than people living closer to the equator, who get more hours of sunlight.
  • Researchers have found a link between schizophrenia and low levels of vitamin D, and are more likely to live in parts of the world with less sun exposure.
  • Vitamin D deficiency adversely impacts serotonin regulation, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for mood and sleep.
  • Being in the sun can promote a sense of well-being, improved mood, as well as increased relaxation, which helps with stress and anxiety.

Physical Health Benefits
Vitamin D is critical for important biological processes to take place, such as:

  • Healthy cardiovascular, immune, respiratory, and skeletal system function. 
  • Reduced rates of various types of cancer, including colon, breast, and prostate cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Fosters circadian rhythm by regulating serotonin and melatonin.
  • Maintains calcium levels
  • Lowers blood pressure

Stay Safe!
Please make sure to practice responsible sun exposure by always wearing sunscreen, drinking lots of water and get regular skin cancer checks with your doctor.