Dr. Michael Holick, PhD, MD, of Boston University Medical Center, answers the question “Do you believe there are more benefits to sunlight than just making vitamin D?”

It’s widely known that exposure to sunlight causes your body to produce Vitamin D.  But are there more benefits beyond this amazing hormone?  Dr. Michael Holick explains:

We, and others, have shown that when you’re exposed to sunlight, one of the reasons you feel better, is that you make beta-endorphin in your skin.  And, as you’re aware, beta-endorphin is what we call an Endogenous opiate, it’s what gives runners their high.

So, we think that’s one of the reasons people feel better when they’re exposed to sunlight.  We also know that Nitric Oxide is produced in the skin during sun exposure and this probably explains why you feel more relaxed because Nitrix Oxide is a major regulator of blood pressure and will decrease blood pressure.

There are probably a lot of other biological processes that are going on in your skin when you’re exposed to sunlight that need to be investigated.  One of them is when you’re exposed to sunlight, not only are you getting vitamin-D in your skin, but you make 5-6 other Vitamin-D-like photoproducts, and we think they may have unique properties in the skin, that may actually reduce risk of skin cancer, and may have improvement in overall skin health.