Sunlight- The Natural Immune Booster

Last updated on May 16, 2023

The immune system is the body’s first line of defence against infections, viruses and other diseases.  A healthy immune system is essential for overall health and wellbeing, and regular exposure to sunlight is essential for a healthy immune system.  

 

Sunlight is a crucial source  of Vitamin D, a key nutrient that plays a huge role in supporting the immune system.  When unfiltered sunlight hits the skin, it triggers the production of Vitamin D, nitric oxide, and other things.  Vitamin D is a potent immunomodulator, meaning it can boost the immune system’s response to infections and reduce the risk of developing autoimmune diseases.  A study published in JAMA Network Open in September 2020 found that “Covid-19  patients with adequate Vitamin D levels were less likely to experience complications such as respiratory failure, sepsis, and death”.

Sunlight also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help decrease inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation is a natural response to infections, injuries and stress.   However, chronic inflammation can lead to long term health problems and is also responsible for the “cytokine storm” associated with poor Covid-19 outcomes. Exposure to sunlight can help decrease inflammation by stimulating the production of nitric oxide.  

 

In addition to boosting the immune system directly and decreasing inflammation, sunlight can have a massive impact on mental health.  Exposure to sunlight triggers the release of serotonin and dopamine.   These are our feel good hormones.  So getting enough sunlight can improve your mental and emotional well- being, which in turn can boost your immune response.

In order to get the full benefit from the sun exposure you need to have as much of your body exposed to the sunlight as possible, during the moderate to high UV time of the day.  This will change throughout the year and your geographic location.  It is important to get adequate sunlight while not damaging your skin.  

 

If you live in an area with limited sunlight during certain times of the year, or have a job or living condition that prevents you from getting regular sunlight you can use a Vitamin D supplement.  While this is an inferior option, it can help many people.  When sourcing a high quality Vitamin D supplement look for ones that are suspended in organic olive oil.  Avoid any that have soybean, cotton seed, or other seed oils. 

Always remember the sun is and has been our primary source of vitamin D as long as humans have been around.  You can get small amounts of vitamin D from certain foods like cod liver, however this is a miniscule amount compared to what your body has the ability to make from just a few hours of sunlight each week.  A good tool to use is an app for your phone called DMinder.  This is a free app that will use your skin tone, and geographic location to measure how much Vitamin D your body makes during a sun exposure, while also warning of sunburn. Adding regular sun exposure to your routine will not only help you stay healthier you will feel better as well.

This information is general in nature and does not substitute professional advice tailored to your needs. 

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