Scientists have proven that sunlight protects the heart by helping to release natural stores of nitric oxide in our skin.
A research team under dermatologist Dr Richard Weller has shown that too little sunlight is bad for cardiovascular health. In winter – particularly in northern latitudes – there is a clear increase in rates of heart failure, heart attacks and strokes.
This is due to the fact that sunlight has to travel to earth through a much thicker atmospheric layer and in the process loses much of its ultraviolet radiation. But it is precisely these ultraviolet rays that trigger the production of the signalling molecule nitric oxide in our skin. This molecule has a positive effect on our cardiovascular health. Nitric oxide dilates the blood vessels, regulates blood pressure and enhances blood flow to the heart.
"The positive effects of sunlight on health have still not been thoroughly researched. But numerous studies have shown that moderate exposure to sunlight is good for our overall health, including our cardiovascular systems. In winter, when the sun is very weak at northern latitudes, it is a good idea to visit a solarium", says Ad Brand of the Sunlight Research Forum (SRF).
The Sunlight Research Forum (SRF) is a non-profit organisation with its headquarters in the Netherlands. Its aim is to make the latest medical and scientific findings concerning the effects of moderate UV radiation on humans open to the general public.