Can Sun Exposure Be Making You Hungrier?

It's well known that sunlight plays a vital role in our overall health and well-being. When you go outside in nature and catch some rays, you may notice that your mood improves, and there's actually a scientific basis behind this occurrence. Levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter linked to a happier mood, are believed to increase in the brain when someone is exposed to sunlight, as explained by Healthline. Moderate levels of sunlight exposure not only improve mental health but may also prevent osteoporosis because vitamin D, which is produced by the skin in response to sun exposure, strengthens the bones. 

As with most things in life, sunlight is only healthy in moderation. As reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine, being exposed to excessive sunlight without protection can damage the skin and immune system, as well as increase someone's risk of developing cancer.

There's no doubt that sunlight has a powerful influence on our minds and bodies. Sun exposure has many effects, but one of the last ones you may consider is whether it can contribute to a person feeling more hungry. Let's take a closer look at what scientists have discovered about this unsuspected combination. 

Is sun exposure linked to increased appetite?

Will you become more hungry if you spend a lot of time in the sun? According to SciTechDaily, research conducted at Tel Aviv University suggests that this may be the case in men, but not in women. Hearing this news might cause you to wonder why this could occur in one biological sex but not in the other.

The researchers at the University believe that sunlight exposure activates a protein by the name of "p53" in male humans and animals. As a result of this protein, ghrelin is produced, which is a hormone associated with heightened appetite. Mostly produced in stomach cells, ghrelin can also be made in the pancreas, small intestine, and brain cells (per Medical Xpress). 

One study found that male mice released greater amounts of ghrelin after being exposed to low levels of UVB radiation, which caused them to eat more and seek out more food, as explained by Medical News Today. For women, however, the female sex hormone estrogen appears to block p53's triggering of ghrelin. Consequently, women may not respond to sunlight exposure in the same way as men. The unique hormonal changes in men may contribute to some men eating more in the summer months, reports Medical Xpress.