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Summer is here!  Time at the beach or pool with family and friends always guarantees a good time – but don’t forget the sunblock!

Too much sun is, of course, damaging and a main cause of skin cancer. However, without sun, our bodies have hard time producing Vitamin D. Both Vitamin D and sunlight have profoundly positive effects on our bodies.

So what do we do? Like with most things, moderation is the answer. Enjoying the sun safely this summer is a fun way to:

Lift your spirits

Serotonin, the brain’s natural antidepressant, naturally boosts your mood. The production of serotonin is directly linked to how much natural sunlight you get. Without sun, low levels of serotonin can lead to depression-like symptoms or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) that many people experience in extremely dark winter months. This summer boost your serotonin by eating outside during your lunch break, taking morning walks, or gardening.

Strengthen your bone health

Peak bone mass occurs at age 30 for both men and women. After that, you may start to loose bone mass. However, a new report from the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health says that maintaining healthy levels of vitamin D may slow the decline of bone mass. Because vitamin D helps the body absorb bone-strengthening calcium and vitamin D is tied to sunlight, getting some sun can be good for your bones.

Sleep soundly and improve your immune system

Exposure to sunlight during the day increases the production of melatonin, the naturally occurring hormone that helps you sleep when the sun goes down. The sun also helps your internal clock – known as a circadian rhythm – stay on its 24-hour cycle of regulating important systems in your body, such as the cells crucial to your immune system. Your internal clock takes

its cues from sunlight, so the lack of it can negatively impact your sleep cycle and immune system.

Keep your internal clock ticking, protect your bones and boost serotonin by giving your body the sunlight it needs. But do it safely! Protect yourself and your family by using sunscreen – and reapplying every few hours – when you’re out this summer. And a hat is always a good idea.