Hey there, sunshine seekers! As we bask in the glory of summer, there's something special in the air—UV light! Now, before you start worrying about sunburns and skin damage, let's take a moment to explore the sunny side of things. In this blog post, we'll dive into the changes in UV light during summer, the awesome benefits it brings, and how you can make the most of it without compromising your well-being.
By the end of this post, you’ll learn:
- Are UV levels higher in summer and to what extent do they reach Earth
- Benefits of UV Light Exposure
- Does supplementing with vitamin D replace the benefits of UV light exposure
- When to avoid UV light exposure
- The tool that will help you absorb UV light safe way
Let’s dive in.
Are UV levels higher in summer?
Yes, the levels of ultraviolet (UV) light are generally higher during the summer. Here’s a few factors influencing the amount of UV light you are exposed to:
Earth's Tilt: The Earth's axis is tilted relative to its orbit around the Sun. During the summer months in a particular hemisphere (e.g., the Northern Hemisphere from June to September), that hemisphere is tilted towards the Sun. As a result, sunlight reaches that hemisphere more directly, leading to increased UV radiation.
Path Length and Atmosphere: In summer, the Sun appears higher in the sky, resulting in a shorter path length for sunlight to travel through the Earth's atmosphere. When sunlight passes through the atmosphere at a steeper angle, there is less distance for the atmosphere to scatter and absorb UV radiation. As a result, more UV light reaches the Earth's surface during summer.
“During summertime sunlight passes through the atmosphere at a steeper angle, and more UV light reaches the Earth's surface.”
Atmospheric Conditions: Summer is often associated with clearer skies and reduced cloud cover in many regions. Clouds have the ability to scatter and absorb UV radiation, acting as a natural filter. With fewer clouds present, less of the UV radiation is obstructed, allowing more UV light to reach the surface.
Latitude: the sun's radiation is most intense at the equator and the lowest at the poles. The farther you are from the equator, the less UV light you are exposed to. Depending on the season, you might not get UVB at all.
Altitude: UV radiation decreases with the distance it has to travel. So the higher you are in altitude, the closer you are to the sun and the more UV light you are exposed to.
Now that we explained in which amount and at what places UV reaches the Earth, let’s discover the 👇🏼
Seven benefits of UV Light Exposure
…And why more UV light is actually a good thing!
Vitamin D synthesis
Our bodies need sunlight to make vitamin D. And vitamin D is the superstar nutrient for bone health, immune function, and mood regulation. So, the increased levels of UVB rays help our skin produce the vitamin D we need to thrive. If you live far from the equator, your UVB light exposure during the summer is even more important as you need to create a reserve of vitamin D for the rest of the year when UVB light is no longer available.
Do you know that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you step outside on a sunny day? Well, UV light has a hand in it! When it comes to mood and energy, UV light is a major activator. It makes your mitochondria (the powerhouses of your cells) more efficient, allowing them to produce more energy. Plus, it helps your body convert amino acids like tryptophan into serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter, and tyrosine into dopamine, the motivation and reward neurotransmitter. Which further leads to a happier mood and increased energy levels!
Sleep Like a Boss
Want to improve your sleep patterns? Get some sunlight! When you soak in natural light, especially in the morning, it helps regulate your internal body clock and makes your sleep-wake cycles run smoothly.
Exposure to natural light increases your production of melatonin, the sleep and rejuvenation hormone. Melatonin releases in the bloodstream to work its magic at night when it’s dark but it’s actually produced during the day when you are exposed to sunlight. The more sunlight you can get, the more melatonin you’ll have. Sweet dreams, guaranteed!
Fact: “The more sunlight we get, the more melatonin we’ll have.”
Here's a bonus perk! UV light exposure strengthens your immune system. It lowers the risk of autoimmune conditions, cancer and infections. It helps control apoptosis, the natural process in the body responsible for getting rid of cancer cells and old, decaying cells. And here's a mind-blowing fact: the more sun exposure you have (yes, that includes UV light), the lower your chances of all-cause mortality. It's not just about avoiding skin cancer; it's about overall well-being.
UV light does wonders for your cardiovascular health and stress levels too. It's like a superhero for blood pressure. By naturally increasing the production of nitric oxide (NO), a powerful vasodilator, UV light actually lowers your blood pressure. Hence, it has a positive impact on your sexual health. A win-win situation.
But wait, there's more! UV light also gives your heart a boost. It increases the cardiac output by a whopping 35%, making your heart stronger and allowing blood to flow more easily throughout the body. Plus, it helps decrease your resting heart rate, which helps calm the nervous system. So, you'll feel more relaxed and at ease.
One more fascinating thing: UV light has healing properties for patients with severe asthma. Studies have shown that after treatment with UV light, patients experience the freedom to breathe more easily.
UV light can actually help you shed some weight. It stimulates the thyroid gland and revs up metabolism, leading to increased fat burning. Imagine developing more muscles and less fat, without hitting the gym for months. It's like having your own secret weapon against those extra pounds.
And that's not all. UV light boosts your sex hormones. On average, exposure to UVA and UVB rays increases sex hormones by 120%.
“UV light stimulates the thyroid gland and revs up our metabolism, leading to increased fat burning.”
UV light is a true hero when it comes to skin health. Reports from the national psoriasis foundation show that 80% of skin disease patients improve when exposed to UV light. It's an effective treatment.
But let's not forget the importance of protecting your skin from excessive UV exposure. UV light stimulates the production of melanin, the pigment that allows you to tan and protects your skin.
Now, here's something intriguing. Melanocyte-stimulating hormones (MSH) play a crucial role in protecting your skin from UV rays. But…! MSH activates through your eyes, not just when UV light strikes your skin. So, wearing sunglasses (or regular prescription glasses) can actually impair your ability to produce melanin, making you more susceptible to sunburn. Who knew sunglasses could have such an impact?
“UV light stimulates the production of melanin, the pigment that allows us to tan and protects our skin.”
If, for some reason, you don’t want or aren’t able to expose yourself to sunlight, you may be asking:
Can I just take a vitamin D supplement to replace UV light exposure?
Let's talk about everyone's favorite, vitamin D! UV light is the key to creating this essential vitamin. Vitamin D affects every single one of your cells and plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy immune system, skin, strong bones, and optimal mental health. It's a superstar!
You might think vitamin D supplements are a great alternative, but here's the truth: they're no match for the vitamin D we make from sunlight. UVB rays from sunlight hit our skin, breaking down cholesterol and instantly producing vitamin D1. This magical transformation continues as D1 absorbs infrared light and turns into cholecalciferol. From there, it moves to the liver, becomes vitamin D2, and finally reaches the kidney as vitamin D3. And D3 is the most bioavailable form. Taking a synthetic form of vitamin D will impair your ability to metabolize cholesterol efficiently and could potentially lead to health problems.
In addition to vitamin D, sun exposure allows us to produce more than 900 different molecules beneficial to our health. It's a natural process that can't be replicated by supplements that contain only one of these molecules.
“Vitamin D supplement doesn’t match the vitamin D we make from sunlight.”
So, my friend, remember that sunlight and UV light are your best sources of vitamin D. They're essential for optimal health and can't be replaced by supplements alone. Get out there, enjoy the sun, and let UV light work its magic on your well-being.
But exposing myself to UV light isn't that naive either. We hear you!
What time should I avoid UV?
You shouldn’t fear or avoid UV light no matter the time of the day. It’s a powerful ally that brings on a host of benefits as we saw above. The important thing to know is that there is a right way and a wrong way to expose yourself to UV light. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing.
To know more about the right way to prepare yourself for the presence of UV light and how to maximize the benefits you get from sun exposure, read our blog post “How to Safely Increase Sun Exposure and Build Your Solar Callus this Spring”.
The tool that helps your eyes to absorb UV light in a safe way: UV Transmitter lenses
UV light influences your body and metabolism via skin and eyes. Exposing your skin to the sun is pretty straightforward. The eyes on the other hand can be more of a challenge for people who wear prescription glasses.
“When UV light hits our eyes, it activates the production of multiple neurotransmitters and hormones.”
Glasses and contact lenses filter out all or almost all UV light. This is a problem because our eyes are made to detect and be exposed to UV light. When UV light hits your eyes, it activates the production of multiple neurotransmitters and hormones. When you wear regular glasses or contact lenses, you filter out UV light and you can’t produce adequate amounts of these molecules. This can lead to fatigue, hormonal imbalances, insomnia, low libido, infertility, lack of focus, ADHD, etc.
In addition, when your eyes detect the presence of UV light, they trigger the release of alpha-MSH, an important hormone that regulates the production of melanin, the skin pigment that protects your skin against sunburn. Wearing sunglasses, glasses or contact lenses impede this process and increases your risk of getting sunburn.
That’s where our UV transmitter lenses come in. They are scientifically engineered to allow healthy UV light to enter your eyes when you go outside. They are made for people who wear prescription lenses and are designed to allow 55-60% of beneficial UV light to enter your eyes.
Simply replace your regular prescription glasses with our UV transmitting glasses and let them do their magic for you!
Now that you're armed with UV light knowledge, it's time to embrace the sun and all its glory! Summer's UV light brings a range of perks, from vitamin D boosts to mood enhancements and improved sleep patterns.
By taking simple precautions and developing a solar callus, you get UV light benefits while keeping your skin and well-being safe. If you wear prescription glasses, get yourself a pair of glasses with our UV transmitter lenses and enjoy the benefits of sun exposure!