We’ve all heard both sides to the age-old argument; do we need sunlight? Or should we all just be vampires? I’ve been told to avoid the sun like the plague and slather on the sun screen. I’ve also been told I need more sun so my skin doesn’t glow in the dark.

The dangers of too much sun exposure are everywhere nowadays. Sunburn. Melanoma. Skin cancer. Dark spots. Wrinkles. Pre-mature aging. But what about the effects of not enough sun exposure? With all of us painting our skin with layers of sun screen are there any downsides?

Yes, in fact there are. Science has found that humans need some sunlight to function. No we do not photosynthesize like plants. Our body needs sunlight to produce things such as vitamin D (which helps in calcium absorption and helps protect against diseases such as heart disease) and melatonin (which helps in falling asleep and mental health such as combating depression).

It is recommended by doctors to get 10 to 15 minutes of unfiltered midday sunlight a day. This can be done as easily as by taking a walk or sitting in the sun reading a good book. It is a good excuse to take a few minutes to relax and cozy up to a warm sunbeam. Just remember moderation. The benefits can be out weighed by the risks if you spend too much time in the sun.