The good and the bad of sunbathing

Sunbathing, one of life’s simple pleasures

Winter’s coming, time for a holiday in the sun!

The closer we get to winter, the increase in arrivals from the north of our continent. This is no surprise considering that the average winter temperature in places like Chicago was -3ºC last year. Bone chilling for those that live in the tropics where temperatures of 18ºC means dusting of woolly hats and scarves.

For our friends in the north, leaving the bitterly cold temperatures for those averaging 25ºC to 30ºC is an obvious draw. Furthermore, many prefer visiting the Mexican Caribbean in the winter months as the temperatures are generally lower than those in the summer when they can reach 40ºC.

The slightly cooler temperatures shouldn’t make you complacent to the strong sun however. It is for this reason that we present you with 5 important things to remember so that you enjoy your vacations without putting your health at risk.

1. Vitamin D

Get your dose of vitamin D in the sun

Vitamin D is fat soluble, which means that it accumulates in the skins fatty tissue. The main way it is absorbed is through sunlight. This vitamin helps control the amount of calcium and phosphate in your body, which are needed to keep your bones and teeth healthy, making it particularly important for children and the elderly. Lack of vitamin D can cause rickets and even blindness, it is therefore important to spend time outdoors every day.

2. UVA and UVB rays

Protect your skin from harmful rays

Ultraviolet light that reaches the earth from the sun is partially filtered by the ozone layer, however too much exposure to some rays of sunlight that reach us can cause mutations in skin cells. Melanoma, basal-cell carcinoma, and squamous-cell carcinoma are the three main types of skin cancer caused by prolonged exposure to the sun. Those that are most vulnerable to the sun’s rays are the young and those with light-coloured skin. It is therefore important to take care of your skin by using sunscreen and to curb your exposure to the sun, especially between the hours of 10am and 3pm when the sun is at its strongest.

3. It makes you happy!

Time in the sun is time well spent

In a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, psychiatrist Simon N. Young describes how exposure to the sun increases the levels of serotonin in the body which helps to tackle feelings of depression.

“Exposure to bright light is a second possible approach to increasing serotonin without drugs. Bright light is, of course, a standard treatment for seasonal depression, but a few studies also suggest that it is an effective treatment for non-seasonal depression and also reduces depressed mood in women with premenstrual dysphoric disorder and in pregnant women suffering from depression.”

Sounds obvious, but now you have scientific proof; time spent in the sun helps improve your overall mood.

4. Taking care of your skin

Getting the perfect tan

Moderation is important for many things in life; a glass of wine can reduce the risk of heart disease however drinking in excess can be harmful to your health. The same goes for sun exposure, moderate exposure can help heal skin disorders like acne, but too much sun or use of sunbeds can cause severe burns and skin cancer. That’s why it is important to find a balance. Getting the perfect tan may take many hours of laying in the sun; speeding up the process by not using sunscreen is not a good idea however, because that golden olive skin you were aiming for will look more lobster red!

5. Simply enjoying life

Life is better in the sun

Whether you are getting a sexy suntan beside your partner on the beach, having fun in the sun with your family, or catching some rays whilst enjoying a good book by the hotel pool; it doesn’t matter how you choose to pass your time in the sun just make sure you take the necessary precautions so that you return home with healthy, beautiful, sun-kissed skin.

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