Could Sunlight Lower Blood Pressure?

First Posted: Jan 20, 2014 04:47 PM EST

A recent study shows how sunlight not only contributes to your overall mood, but it can also increase levels of vitamin D.

According to researchers from the Universities of Southamptom and Edinburg, sunlight may help reduce blood pressure levels that could lower the risk of both heart attack and stroke.

For the study, researchers examined skin samples from 24 healthy participants who were exposed to two sessions of ultraviolet light (UVA) from tanning lamps for 20 minutes each. One of the study groups were also exposed to UVA light and heat from the lamps. The other group was only exposed to heat from the lamps.

Researchers discovered that the sunlight changed the levels of nitric oxide found in the body. When these levels were altered, the participants blood pressure also went down. The researchers believe that the sunlight may be able to dilate the blood vessels that lowers the blood pressure.

"NO along with its breakdown products, known to be abundant in skin, is involved in the regulation of blood pressure. When exposed to sunlight, small amounts of NO are transferred from the skin to the circulation, lowering blood vessel tone; as blood pressure drops, so does the risk of heart attack and stroke," explained Martin Feelisch, Professor of Experimental Medicine and Integrative Biology at the University of Southampton.

However, the researchers also cautioned that too much sun exposure can lead to other health problems, including skin cancer. Therefore, sunscreen is always an essential part of being outside.

What do you think?

More information regarding the study can be found via the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

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