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Daily exposure to sunlight is so important because it may provide numerous health benefits, including maintaining bone strength and health. While most people are aware of it, very few are aware that soaking in the sun can also benefit mental health! Yes, ladies, you should get vitamin D for mental health as well.
Natural light is better for physical and mental health, and getting out in the daylight on a regular basis can improve our psychological performance. FYI, we’re not talking about soaking in scorching heat. All you need is 15 minutes in the sun to get your daily dose of natural vitamin D.
Health Shots spoke to Dr Kedar Tilwe, Consultant-Psychiatrist, Fortis Hospital Mulund and Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi, Mumbai, to find out how sunlight can benefit mental health.
You know what you need to uplift your mood? Serotonin! Dr Tilwe says, “Exposure to sunlight is shown to increase the physiological levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin, which may, in turn, improve your focus, and concentration and may even help mildly elevate your mood.”
In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, people report feeling more mentally distressed on days with little to no sunlight. Sunny days are associated with improved mood and mental health. According to another Brigham Young University study, “if you get enough sun, your level of emotional distress should stay stable.” Take away the sun, though, and your anxiety may rise.”
Sleep deprivation is linked to a variety of health problems. Depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder are some of the mental health issues that a lack of sleep can exacerbate. You should soak in sunlight to get enough sleep. “Exposure to natural light, especially sunlight, is one of the most important cues that your circadian rhythms synchronize with. It helps to set your biological clock and can also help to alleviate the confusion caused by it,” Dr Tilwe says.
Sunlight is also known to regulate melatonin, which reduces the time it takes you to fall asleep and results in a deeper, less drowsy sleep.
Low serotonin levels are linked to an increased risk of depression. But sunlight can boost serotonin levels. “Exposure to sunlight will also help at times offset the gloom and depressive features precipitated by seasonal affective disorder (SAD),” says Dr Tilwe.
It clearly means that you will be fine during the spring and summer months, but you may experience depression symptoms during the winter due to a lack of sunlight. During the winter, you may also become deficient in vitamin D. As a result, you must concentrate on your diet.
While sunlight is the best natural source of vitamin D, foods such as milk, eggs, mushrooms, salmon fish, low fat milk, yoghurt, and cod liver oil are also excellent sources of vitamin D that you can add to your diet.