There are many beneficial things that are very beneficial to our health and feeling optimal.
Have you guessed it yet?
This is one of the most fundamental things you can do that will benefit you. And the benefits are endless.
Here are a few.
Sunlight, androgens and sexual function
- Specifically, ultraviolet B (UVB) exposure enhances the levels of sex-steroid hormones and sexual behavior, which are mediated by the skin through p53 (R). UVB exposure also enhances the sexual responsiveness and attractiveness of females and male-female interactions. “In humans, solar exposure enhances romantic passion in both genders and aggressiveness in men, as seen in analysis of individual questionaries, and positively correlates with testosterone level.“
- Directly stimulate the skin to product steroids. Up to half of the total circulating testosterone is produced from skin and other peripheral organs and the most potent androgen, dehydrotestosterone (DHT), is mainly synthesized in peripheral tissues, including skin (R).
- Improves fertility. “It is interesting that industrialization, which shifted work from outdoors to indoors with eternal summer conditions, characterized by a long photoperiod and mild temperatures with almost no seasonality (Stevenson et al., 2015), happened in parallel to an amplitude reduction in peaks in human conceptions observed in today’s industrialized nations” (R)
- May alter hypothalamus activity or directly affect axillary secretion to release pheromones, which contains the odorous 16-androstenes. This can also enhance sexual attractiveness, etc. (R)
- Increases dopamine (R, R)
- Lowers stress and cortisol (R)
- Potentially increase BNDF (R). BDNF is higher in the summer than the winter.
- Stimulate the skin to produce and release peptides derived from:
- proopiomelanocortin (POMC). POMC promotes energy and libido.
- β-endorphin. β-endorphin release into the circulation is implicated in sun-addiction behaviour (R)
- ACTH and corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). ACTH stimulates the cutaneously distributed melanocortin 2 receptor to start steroidogenesis leading to cortisol/corticosterone production. For those people that feel very sluggish in the morning, they can benefit a lot from sunlight to increase their morning cortisol. Local cortisol also has anti-inflammatory effects on the skin and is helpful against exzema, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, acne vulgaris and alopecia areata, etc. POMC derived peptides can also antagonize the excessive proinflammatory effects of CRH itself. (R)
- Might regulate thyroid hormone. Humans living in polar regions are at risk of the so called “polar T3 syndrome”, a condition featuring chronically low levels of blood T3 and leading to psychological disorders, such as depression and increased aggression, similar to SAD (R).
- Have anti-depressant effects (R, R)
- Promotes blood flow via the release of nitric oxide
- Gives you a good tan (who doesn’t look good with a (normal) tan?)
- Increase synthesis of vitamin D. At least 1,000 different genes governing virtually every tissue in the body are now thought to be regulated by 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25[OH]D), the active form of the vitamin, including several involved in calcium metabolism and neuromuscular and immune system functioning (R).
- Improve mitochondrial function via the red and near infrared light (R). Some people even tan their gonads to directly stimulate them to produce testosterone.
- Enhances the synthesis of subcellular melatonin (R). It has been reported that subcellular melatonin exists in many tissues at higher concentration levels than circulatory melatonin in the blood and it’s mainly stimulated with red and near infrared light.
- Entrains circadian rhythms, so that you have more energy during the day and sleep better at night.
- Modulates the gut microbiome (R) and can have a positive effect on IBD for example (R).
- Balances the immune system and has many anti-cancer/disease benefits (R).
- Reduction in mortality. “25(OH)D concentration was inversely associated with death from cardiovascular disease, cancer and other causes… Independently, Lindqvist et al.  estimated that sun avoidance was a risk factor for death of similar magnitude to smoking.” (R)
- Reduced risk of metabolic syndrome (obesity, elevated lipids, insulin resistance, visceral fat, etc.)
- There is growing observational and experimental evidence that regular exposure to sunlight contributes to the prevention of disease, such as colon and prostate cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple sclerosis, hypertension and diabetes. (R)
Supercharging the benefits of the sun
If a lot of the (sexual) benefits are through the p53 pathway as the study I linked at the top demonstrated, then boosting DHEA or using some DHEA topically for a few weeks can synergize with sunlight since DHEA upregulates p53 expression (R).
Also, since the steroids are created from cholesterol and the whole process is limited to the availability of cholesterol, then applying cholesterol to the skin should enhance the production of steroids. Lanolin is perfect for this since it’s high in cholesterol. It also contains 7-Dehydrocholesterol which can then immediately be used for the synthesis of vitamin D.
Lanolin is very viscous, so it’s best to mix it with something like MCT oil and then it’s much easier to apply. I’m currently using a 1:1 ratio of lanolin to MCT and it works great.
The cool thing about lanolin is that it also protects you from sun damage (R).
You can also add niacinamide and caffeine to your lanolin mix.
Niacinamide will increase NAD, which is essential for energy production and steroidogenesis. And niacinamide has also been shown to be great for the skin.
Caffeine stimulates cAMP which increases StAR, which is the rate-limited step in steroidogenesis. More cholesterol and high StAR should result in a lot higher steroid production. Caffeine also protects against UV-induced skin damage.
If you don’t want to go through all the effects of making your own product, you can simply buy SolBan (which is a mix of caffeine, niacinamide, aspirin and succinic acid) and then apply that one first and then the lanolin to your skin. Or when you make your lanolin dilution, mix in some SolBan as well.
Duration and time of day
For most white people, a half-hour in the summer sun in a bathing suit can initiate the release of 50,000 IU (1.25 mg) vitamin D into the circulation within 24 hours of exposure; this same amount of exposure yields 20,000–30,000 IU in tanned individuals and 8,000–10,000 IU in dark-skinned people (R).
I recommend at least 10 minutes each morning for circadian, neurotransmitters and hormonal benefits. But 30 min or more of upper body sunlight daily (if the weather permits) would be even better. Tanning beds or UVB lamps can also work for the synthesis of vitamin D. If you want to go for the latter option, then it will be a good idea to combine it with some red and near-infrared (RNI) light as well. UV light causes oxidative stress on the skin and RNI light can undo/protect against that.
As a side note, excess sun exposure has been shown to contribute to skin cancer, but that is mostly in people who only get intermittent excessive exposure versus those that can it most of the time.
I prefer to get out in the morning or later in the day, since the NRI to UV ratio is much better, but then again, that doesn’t prevent me from going out in mid-day as well.
In terms of ratios, the NIR/VIS (650-1200nm to 500-650nm ratio) optical watt ratios are approximately 3 to 1 at sunrise, reaching 1 to 1 at noon, returning to 3 to 1 at sunset. So early day sunlight stimulates high levels of antioxidants in our cells (R). So technically, mid-day has the least RNI light and can also be the most harmful if not properly protected.
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