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There’s nothing quite like a good dose of sunshine to lift the spirits – and, as much of the UK has been experiencing a mini heatwave, many of us have enjoyed basking in the warmer temperatures.
But while we instinctively recognise the mood-lifting properties of good weather, sunshine can also help project us against illnesses.
Older people can benefit from a daily dose of sunshine and, unless it’s simply not possible to get outside, this should be seen as an important aid to staying fit and healthy in later years.

The sunshine vitamin 

Vitamin D is essential to good health and is produced when sunlight hits the skin. Studies have credited it with protecting against inflammation, lowering high blood pressure, helping muscle health, improving brain function, and possibly even helping to protect against cancer.
Research has also suggested a link between increased sun exposure and protection from type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
There have also been suggestions that Vitamin D can reduce the risks from Covid 19 – although the evidence does not appear to be conclusive on this.
But one benefit which is beyond doubt is the sunshine vitamin’s importance when it comes to bones and muscles.
According to the NHS Vitamin D helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which are needed to keep bones, teeth, and muscles healthy.
A severe and prolonged lack of Vitamin D can lead to serious bone deformities such as rickets in children and bone pain caused by osteomalacia in adults, which makes bones become soft and more likely to break. Vitamin D deficiency also may contribute to osteoporosis.

Alternative ways of getting Vitamin D 

Luckily for those of us living in the northern hemisphere sunshine is not the only way of accessing this vital vitamin.
Government advice is that everyone should consider taking a daily Vitamin D supplement in the autumn and winter. People at high risk of not getting enough should consider taking a daily supplement throughout the year.
Vitamin D can also be found in a small number of foods – including oily fish, red meat, liver, egg yolks and fortified foods, such as some fat spreads and breakfast cereal.

Other sunshine benefits 

But it’s not all about Vitamin D. Sunshine is also thought to help promote better sleep and to support circadian rhythms by regulating the levels of serotonin and melatonin.
It is also believed that exposure to sunshine leads to the skin producing beta-endorphins, which can help reduce symptoms of pain.
Sunlight’s positive effect on mood is well-known. In SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) a lack of sunlight can lead to depression, which can be severe for some.
It is believed that a lack of sunlight may stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus from working properly, which in turn can affect the production of melatonin, serotonin, and the body’s circadian rhythm.

Stay safe in the sun 

Older people are advised to go outside in the sun once or twice every day without sunscreen for short periods from March to October if they can. But it is important not to overdo it and to realise that you can have too much of a good thing.  You shouldn’t forget the potential dangers of excessive sun exposure – including heat stroke, skin cancer and burns.

If you know someone who would benefit from the peace of mind a stairlift brings, get in touch with our friendly team of experts at Halton Stairlifts. Call 0800 644 7766 to find out more about our full range of curved and straight stairlifts, or to arrange your free home assessment today