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Soak up the sun

health-and-fitness Updated: Jul 26, 2013 12:12 IST
Aditi Pant
Aditi Pant
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

We are regularly told to protect ourselves from the scorching sun. But, often in the effort to guard ourselves from the sun’s rays, we forget to remind ourselves that we also need a li’l bit of sunshine every day.

“A large number of people in India suffer from Vitamin D deficiency. While the culture of sun-bathing is common abroad, people in India are too afraid of the sun. But we must remember that sun exposure in summer is very important. About 15-20 minutes of sun exposure is what you need for your body to build vitamin D from the UV rays,” explains Dr Anup Dhir, chief cosmetic surgeon, Apollo hospital.

What can too less sun exposure lead to? So, while over exposure to sun has been shown to cause wrinkles and, potentially, skin cancer, many medical experts and researches say that lack of sunshine contributes to a number of illnesses, including rickets in children, osteomalacia in adults, poor bone health, depression and sleeplessness. “Overall sun exposure is quite less among urban Indians. Our sedentary lifestyles have reduced outdoor activities, due to which our exposure to the sun has reduced massively,” says Dr Chiranjiv Chabra, dermatologist.

Several studies, including a Harvard study and one by American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, have identified that lack of Vitamin D increases risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and cancer.

So, soak up some sun even in summer. Just take care of two things — How long you should be in the sun and when is the best time to go out? Be friends with the sun “Make sure to expose yourself to the sun for 15-20 minutes daily. If you are scared of a tan, you can always apply sunscreen on the face,” says Dr Dhir. While a few minutes of sunshine will do the trick, remember to do it only during certain hours of the day. “Timing is very important. That’s the reason why we say that we should take morning walks or evening walks and not noon walks. UVA (Ultra Violet ray A) is most active between 10am and 2pm, which can damage your skin. So, take walks to soak up sun before 10am or after 2pm. During this time, UVB (Ultra violet ray B) gets soaked up and helps in making vital Vitamin D in the body. So, keep in mind the time for sun exposure,” advises Dr Harsh Priyadarshi, consultant, orthopedics, Max Healthcare.

Benefits of Sunlight
It contributes to bone health
Improves sleep quality
Known to stimulate appetite and improve digestion and metabolism
Supports the immune system
Helps lower blood pressure
Can help cure mild depression