Understanding UV light and the process of tanning under it

The rays emitted by the sun are primarily in the form of electromagnetic waves. The sun's radiation can be broadly classified into visible light, infra red radiation and ultra violet light. It is ultra violet or UV radiation out of all three that affects the tanning process.

Types of UV light
The UV light spectrum can be broadly classified into three categories of UV rays.

UVA - This category of UV rays has the maximum penetration. Amidst other UV rays, it is UVA that is responsible for the tanning process.

UVB - UVB are the UV rays that are responsible for causing sun burn. It is for this reason that tanning beds make lesser use of UVB rays. UVB rays have more radioactive content as compared to UVA rays.

UVC - This is the most powerful as well as the most dangerous of all UV rays. The earth's atmosphere prevents these rays from reaching the earth. As per FDA guidelines, UVC rays should not be used in tanning beds.

Benefits of exposure to sun and UV light
While the world speaks about the drawbacks of tanning through UV exposure, there are numerous benefits of tanning that go unnoticed. Here are some of them.

Sun tanning triggers a 'feel good' factor inside the body. This is primarily caused due to the release of endorphins inside the body. These endorphins are released along side during the tanning process.

Exposure to sun can also help in healing and treatment of various diseases and disorders. The science that studies the positive effects of UV Light is also known as Heliotherapy.

Spending some time in the sun leads to a production of Vitamin D inside the body. Vitamin D is essential for the body in more way than just one. Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones and teeth. This vitamin encourages the absorption of calcium and keeps your bones healthy. Further on, Vitamin D also lowers overall cholesterol levels, boosts the immune system and treats various symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome.

Not exposing yourself to enough sunlight can result in Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. This problem is accompanied by symptoms such as mild depression and irritability. Lack of sunlight may even result in insomnia.

Controlled exposure to UV rays can also help in treating skin diseases like eczema, acne and psoriasis.

Word of caution
It is true that mild exposure to UV rays does have multiple benefits. But this does not mean that you can go and spend endless hours in the sun. Also, make sure that you use a protective sun block or sunscreen before you go out in the sun. Sun blocks contain titanium dioxide that reflects off the light from your skin.