Soak up the sun to boost immunity, strengthen bones this winter
- Early morning sunlight can be your ultimate immunity booster in winters as it not only prevents one from various allergies and respiratory illnesses but also hormonal imbalances, supporting your heart health and guarding you against mental health issues.
Busy planning your winter wardrobe and diet regimen in the cold weather? Do not forget to dedicate some time to soak up the sun as the temperatures go down. Early morning sunlight can be your ultimate winter immunity booster as it not only prevents you from various allergies and respiratory illnesses but also hormonal imbalances, supporting your heart health and guarding you against mental health issues.
With many of us still working from home in the Covid era, exposure to sunlight is all the more important to strengthen bones, boosting immunity and preventing allergies.
"Sun is the most important source of energy on our planet. More so, its importance cannot be undermined in the winters and in this work from home environment.
Early morning sunlight is an important source of cholecalciferol or vitamin D3. This mineral is essential for many important body functions which include strengthening of bones and muscles, boosting immunity, protection from allergies, heart health and mood elevation," says Dr Sharddha Despande, Consultant Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgeon, Wockhardt Hospital.
"Winter though being a pleasant season of the year also causes an exacerbation of various allergies and respiratory illnesses. There are changes seen in the body due to lack of sunlight and hormone imbalances in this season. It becomes very important to seek exposure to sunlight everyday especially in winters," says Pranita Kulkarni, Clinical Nutritionist, Jupiter Hospital Pune.
Our bones may turn brittle, becoming susceptible to fractures in the absence of Vitamin D3 that plays a part in regulation of calcium in the body. It also prevents heart failure by strengthening heart muscles.
"Vitamin D3 plays an important part in regulation of calcium and phosphates in the body. Calcium is important for strengthening the bones, muscles and nerves. Deficiency of Calcium can cause osteoporosis or brittleness of bones, fractures and various pains and aches in the body. It is also important for muscle strength, including the heart muscles, thus preventing heart failure," says Dr Despande.
Vitamin D3 also plays an important role in boosting our immunity and protecting us from various bacterial and viral infections including COVID-19.
Sunlight for better mental health
"Sunlight also plays a role in melatonin regulation. A hormone which is responsible for our sleep cycle. An early morning sun exposure can suppress this hormone and allows one to have better productivity during the day, and good sleep during night, thereby avoiding insomnia and other problems associated with the WFH environment.
A lot of mental health disorders including anxiety and depression have been seen to be associated with Vitamin D3 deficiency. Hence the importance of sunlight for our physical and mental health is paramount," says Dr Deshpande.
Spending 15 to 30 minutes of your time taking a morning walk, or sipping tea in the balcony, ensuring all day long sunlight flowing through your windows, are some of the ways to ensure your daily dose of Vitamin D, even in the winters, says the expert.
"It becomes very important to seek exposure to sunlight everyday especially in winters. Exposure to sunlight helps destroy viruses, pathogens which thereby reduce allergic reactions in the body. Sunlight provides us with lot of Vitamin D which is a potent antioxidant. It also helps secrete Serotonin hormone which keeps your mood good and relaxes the brain," says Kulkarni.