Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Sunlight & the Brain

Life on planet earth cannot survive or thrive without exposure to natural sunlight. Beyond the commonly touted benefits of Vitamin D production and calcium utilization, sunlight turns on internal chemical reactions and stimulates enzymes to work more efficiently. Brain plasticity and depression that are regulated in part by Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), show a correlation with the amount of ambient sunlight. Estimates are that exposure of one’s arms to 10-15 minutes of natural light can provide these benefits—dark-skins may need 5-6 times that amount of time. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is part of the electromagnetic (light) spectrum that reaches the earth from the sun. UVA wavelengths are longer than UBV but both can be damaging. Excessive exposure to sunlight can contribute to skin cancer, premature wrinkling and aging of the skin, cataracts, and macular degeneration. It is also linked with diseases that are aggravated by immunosuppression, allowing reactivation of some latent viruses.

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