As spring warms the cold icicles off of our hearts and tank tops, the academic quad and the residential quad bloom with friends playing Frisbee, reading books, talking and just enjoying the much missed sunshine. However, while we are contently napping in the sun, there are a few key points we should think about. For instance, if you relate, there is the risk of us pasty kids becoming the new mascot for Red Lobster.
I know I’ve been a very excellent lobster a few times in my life, but that really isn’t the career I thought about pursuing when I came to West Chester University. As many may know, burning isn’t healthy or enjoyable. The sun gives us a mineral called Vitamin D. That’s the one they started adding to milk, so it might be familiar. Vitamin D helps with bone strength and sunshine is the best way to get it.
“The sun gives you cancer!” has been the cry of many for the past few years. It’s true that sunburns and the sun can leave freckles, increased pigment or a tan, and can lead to skin cancer over prolonged exposure. Wearing sunscreen or a shirt is important to protect from the sun’s rays for long days outdoors, or for the future lobsters like me. But did you know a person who is deficient in Vitamin D also has increased risks of deadly cancers?
Recently, more research has focused on the benefits of sunshine. A study from 2004 by MF Holick shows the importance of Vitamin D from sunlight and its role in the prevention of autoimmune diseases, cancers and even cardiovascular disease. As college students, cardiovascular disease isn’t our top priority, but the more you stay healthy, the longer you’ll be in that time of my life’ zone that you can brag about to your kids. In addition, Mirror Online wrote “15 Reasons Why the Sun is Good for You,” which describes reasons like it strengthens the immune system and even boosts fertility. So, stay protected out there in the sunshine.
On a social level, sunshine gives us more energy by decreasing the amount of melatonin, the sleep hormone, in the blood.
That’s why people are much more excited to go on random adventures during the summertime than during the dark and icy wintertime blues. The winter blues, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is actually seasonal depression caused by lack of sunlight during the winter months. Walking or sitting outside in the sun can decrease the effects of SAD and boost your mood year-round. As well as giving us more energy, sunlight increases the levels of serotonin released, which increases happiness and suppresses appetite. Sunlight helps us lose weight and could be called a weight-loss drug. However, be careful because although sunlight is bad in deficiency, it is also bad in excess. Moderation is key.
So, whether you’re out in the sun with your friends or sitting inside not wanting to get burnt, remember these sun facts and wow your fellow humans with your ability to pick up randomly interesting information.
Olivia Kimber is a first-year student majoring in chemistry education. Reach them at OK851646@wcupa.edu