Sunlight isn't only the best source for vitamin D-which is essential for so many of the body's functions-it also releases nitric oxide in the body, helps us produce beta-endorphins and regulates our wake-sleep patterns.
But health warnings about sunlight have become so extreme that most of us are starved of vitamin D, say scientists with GrassRoots Health, a public health research group. Sun avoidance is putting our health at risk, says group spokesperson Carole Baggerly.
Moderate UV exposure is a natural way to improve human health. Sunlight can also help treat skin conditions such as psoriasis and cutaneous TB.
The group, which includes scientists from the University of California at San Diego and Boston University Medical Centre, urges government health officials to assess just what are the dangerous levels of UV exposure, and change public warnings to encourage safe sunbathing.
(Source: Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2015; 34: 359)