We are all solar powered. I mean it. Our human relationship with the sun is one of the most important, and most abused, relationships in our lives. At times we are afraid of it, and at others we overdose on it. At the end of it all, we need the sun to be happy and healthy, and if we use it correctly it is one of the most important resources in our lives.
Unfortunately, humans do not produce energy through photosynthesis the way plants do. However, we are designed to use sunlight in other important ways.
Proper exposure of our skin surface to sunshine (UVB) is the principal way we get Vitamin D. Vitamin D, or more specifically a lack of vitamin D, is a major contributor to several forms of cancer, as well as heart disease, osteoporosis, and a host of other ailments including depression. Sunshine is free and thus big food companies cannot sell it to you at a profit. It is for this reason that most people have been misled into thinking that any exposure to sunlight is harmful. Not true.
Fashion magazines promote a sallow, pale, deathly unhealthy skin tone rather than a healthy natural glow from sunshine. The cosmetics industry wants us to spend a fortune to protect ourselves from something we actually need very badly. Dairy Board tries to convince you that disgusting cow's milk is better than natural, free sunlight for getting vitamin D. Big Pharma tries to sell us supplements for something we can easily get faster and more efficiently FOR FREE. Don't even get me started on tanning beds. Yeesh.
A mere 10-15 minutes per day of sunlight exposure on our skin is enough for most of us to produce the vitamin D we need to be healthy (darker skinned people will need two or three times as much). This also helps us develop a positive mental attitude and avoid depression.
Too much of any good thing becomes a bad thing, so if you plan on being in direct sunlight longer than an hour or so (such as going to the beach), it is worth staying in the shade or using sunscreen to avoid sunburn or sunstroke. Sunburn is a leading factor in skin cancer, which is more common than it should be.
My personal favorite was to get out of the office whenever possible at lunchtime for a 10-15 minutes walk out to buy a bento or, when that wasn't possible, to sneak out for an afternoon stroll once the markets were closed. This was always enough for me to refresh myself and come back energized.
Vitamin D is important, and drinking cow's milk is a foolish way to try to get it.
"here comes the sun
here comes the sun and I say
It's all right."
- The Beatles "Abbey Road" (1969)