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Is sunlight good for our heart?

Source European Heart Journal

Humans evolved being exposed for about half of the day to the light of the sun. Nowadays, exposure to sunlight is actively discouraged for fear of skin cancer, and contemporary lifestyles are associated with long hours spent under artificial light indoors. Besides an increasing appreciation for the adverse effects of these life-style-related behavioural changes on our chronobiology, the balance between the beneficial and harmful effects of sunlight on human health is the subject of considerable debate, in both the scientific and popular press, and the latter is of major public health significance. While there is incontrovertible evidence that ultraviolet radiation (UVR) in the form of sunlight is a significant predisposing factor for non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers in pale skinned people,  a growing body of data suggest general health benefits brought about by sunlight.

The researchers propose that many of the beneficial effects of sunlight, particularly those related to cardiovascular health, are mediated by mechanisms that are independent of melatonin, vitamin D, and exposure to UVB alone. Specifically, they suggest that the skin is a significant store of nitric oxide (NO)-related species that can be mobilized by sunlight and delivered to the systemic circulation to exert coronary vasodilator and cardioprotective as well as antihypertensive effects. They further hypothesize that this dermal NO reservoir is a product of local production and dietary supply with nitrate-rich foods.

The full article (pdf) is available on the European Heart Journal website.

3 comments to Is sunlight good for our heart?

  • karl

    This is an interesting article. I routinely come across prediabetic and type 2 diabetic patient with hypertension/high blood pressure. Many will have not only high blood glucose levels but also high plasma lipid concentration (hyperlipidemia). I believe due to chronic systemic inflammation atherosclerosis occurs covering the nitric oxide sites on the arterial wall(tunica intima) compromising the arterys’ ability to dialate(reducing blood pressure). All the while arterial thickening happens causing arterial stiffness. There’s more to this process then what I have mentioned but having said that we as chiropractors can help the many and I mean many that are prediabetic, diabetic, prehypertensive and hypertensive with sound influencial lifestyle chiropractic medicine. Thanks for this interesting article.

  • Karl you said it well. Would like to see some research on sunlight and it’s role on mood and it’s effect on those parts of the brain.

  • I just found your blog. Kudos on putting together a great site with good information. I have a lot of patients that did, are, or want to stop taking their heart medications and are always looking for more information on what they can do, naturally, to help support their heart health. This is an excellent article. I will definitely pass along this information.

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