Sunshine Surprise: The Amazing Heart Helper Your Skin Loves!

Sunlight does more for our bodies than we may realize. While it is widely known for helping our skin produce vitamin D, researchers have discovered another essential chemical that our skin releases when it comes into contact with sunlight. This substance is a critical factor in maintaining our overall health and could even be life-saving.

Research conducted at the Universities of Southampton and Edinburgh has found that sunlight plays a vital role in regulating levels of nitric oxide (NO) in our skin and blood. NO is crucial in reducing blood pressure and allowing blood vessel walls to relax, both of which are essential for maintaining heart health.

According to researcher Martin Feelisch, “NO, along with its breakdown products, known to be abundant in skin, is involved in the regulation of blood pressure. When exposed to sunlight, small amounts of NO are transferred from the skin to the circulation, lowering blood vessel tone; as blood pressure drops, so does the risk of heart attack and stroke.”

The study involved investigating UVA, a type of ultraviolet light from the sun. The research indicated that UVA has a substantial impact on blood vessels by dilating them and significantly reducing blood pressure. In addition, it was found that UVA alters NO metabolite levels in the blood without affecting vitamin D levels.

Feelisch explains, “We believe that NO from the skin is an important, so far overlooked contributor to cardiovascular health. In future studies, we intend to test whether the effects hold true in a more chronic setting and identify new nutritional strategies targeted at maximizing the skin’s ability to store NO and deliver it to the circulation more efficiently.”

The researchers note that their findings may shed light on why blood pressure tends to go up in winter and the risk of heart issues increases. Since sunlight is less abundant during colder months, it is likely that we receive less NO than we do in warmer months.

However, experts emphasize that excessive sun exposure carries risks, so balance is crucial. The American Skin Association recommends using sunscreen with SPF 30, wearing sunglasses, and avoiding direct sunlight between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM. These precautions are essential even in colder months, as UV rays can still reach or bounce off surfaces like water and snow.

But don’t shy away from sunlight entirely, as moderate exposure provides valuable benefits for our health. For those living in areas with limited sun, proper nutrition and supplements can provide much-needed support. Incorporate foods rich in nitric oxide into your diet, such as beets, kale, spinach, and dark chocolate.

It’s also essential to ensure your diet contains adequate amounts of Vitamin D, which can be found in foods like fortified milk, fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna), and egg yolks. For those with limited sun exposure, you can consider taking a vitamin D supplement to make up for any deficiencies.

So, how do you strike the right balance when it comes to sunlight exposure? It’s important to remember that moderation is key. It’s not necessary, nor is it recommended, to spend long hours under the sun every day, but brief exposures can still provide significant health benefits. Aim for around 15-20 minutes each day, especially when the sun’s rays are not at their peak.

In conclusion, sunlight plays a critical role in producing life-protecting chemicals in our bodies. It helps maintain cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, and reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke. While it’s vital not to overdo sun exposure, a healthy amount is essential for a balanced lifestyle and supporting overall wellbeing. Remember to embrace the sun while maintaining adequate precautions and seek other sources for nutrients when sunlight is limited.