The Sunny Side

By Carlos M Viana, CCN, OMD

In the Caribbean Sea, on the sunny side of the world, sits the ABC islands, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. Just twelve degrees latitude south, is the greatest concentration of sunlight on earth, the equator. In latitude, each degree is approximately 69 miles/111 kilometers apart, this means lots of sunshine and ultraviolet (UV) light on our Islands.

Sunlight encourages the production of white blood cells to boost the immune system and fight infection. UV rays from the sun act as a natural antiseptic, helping to combat viruses and bacteria. A little UV light eases common skin problems including acne, dermatitis and psoriasis. Most skin complaints are caused by over-sensitivity. The sun’s UV rays help to combat this sensitivity. Not seeing sunlight for prolonged periods, like during grey skies of winter can cause Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD), where the person can feel “sad” or depressed. The sun even promotes the release of proteins, which makes your body’s use of oxygen more effective, helping heart attack patients survive longer. However, you can have too much of a good thing, so limit your exposure to no more than 15 minutes a day before applying a sun cream, and do not go out in the hottest part of the day, between 11:00am and 2:00pm. If this is not possible, wear protective clothing and sunscreen.

Also influenced by the sun is melatonin, a hormone that naturally makes you sleepy. Melatonin levels rise when the sun goes down to help you sleep. Levels then drop, when the sun rises, waking you up. Insomnia and irregular sleep patterns tend improve in the summer when we are exposed to more sunlight. Are you guilty of staying up late with artificial lighting, or do you work late shifts, thus messing up your body’s natural sleep cycle?  If melatonin levels are not working correctly, it affects your body’s ability to make vitamin D.

Vitamin D is called the “sunshine vitamin” because it can be made in the skin from exposure to sunlight. We assume that those of us, who live in sunny climates, have adequate vitamin D production. However, when we make assumptions, we’re limiting ourselves to a narrow view of things.Vitamin D is vital both for healthy bones and preventing rickets, a childhood disorder in which bones become soft and prone to fractures and deformity. Another benefit from Vitamin D – it fights viruses naturally. Vitamin D is actually a group of hormones responsible for enhancing absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate and zinc. In humans, the most important compounds in this group are vitamin D3 and vitamin D2.

In my constant search to stay current and improve the health of my family and clients, I read many studies that said an estimated 1 billion people worldwide, across all ethnicities and age groups have a vitamin D deficiency! This ‘pandemic’ of vitamin D deficiency has mainly been attributed to lifestyle and environmental factors that reduce exposure to sunlight, which is required for ultraviolet-B (UVB)-induced vitamin D production in the skin.

Dark skin absorbs more UVB in the melanin of their skin than light skin does. This means more sun exposure is required to produce the same amount of vitamin D. Wow! Like many people, I thought dark skin would be more effective in producing Vitamin D not less.

I decided to test some of myclients Vitamin D levels, choosing a variety of ages, sex and body types of those only living in Aruba, where we have strong sunlight. When we received the results that both shocked and humbled me;all of us came out vitamin D deficient! The initial test was just a small selection of people. Now I recommend checking not only for Vitamin D, but alsoCortisol, which shows possible deficiency of melatonin levels, to see if melatonin is affecting vitamin D and if supplementation is needed. This isespecially important for peoplein climates where the sun doesn’t shine long and strong, but also here on the sunny side.

Most oil-rich fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring contain some vitamin D3, but we are not getting sufficient amounts of D2 from our foods anymore with modern farming and altered food conditions. Vitamin D is an independent risk factor for premature aging. Emerging research supports the possible role of vitamin D in prevention of cancer, heart disease, fractures and falls, autoimmune diseases, influenza, type-2 diabetes, and depression.

Health care providers have begun to increase their recommendations for vitamin D3supplementation to least 1000 IU per day.Your body is able to convert D3 into D2 if needed. Personally, I recommend testing your vitamin D status first, then with results, when deficient supplementing with up to 15,000 IU’s/week for women and 20,000 IU’s/week for men of a high quality vitamin D3; then testing again after three to six months for adjustment. Doing this, I have achieved positive results.

Get The Point! Making assumptions is natural, but inefficient. By not using all the tools available to be sure what is really happening, the assumption can cost more in the long run.Contact us about testing your vitamin D levels so we can show you how to adjust your lifestyle and if you need a little “sunshine vitamin” supplementation. Meanwhile, get outside and soak up some sun. We are so blessed to live on the sunny side of the “street.”

CARLOS VIANA, Ph. D. is an Oriental Medical Doctor (O.M.D.) having studied in China; a US Board Cert. Clinical Nutritionist (C.C.N.), an Addiction Professional (C.Ad.), Chairperson of the Latin American Committee of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT), a Rejuvenating Cell Therapist specializing in Age Management, has a weekly radio program, writes and lectures extensively. For information: VIANA HEALING CENTER, Kibaima 7, St Cruz TEL: 585-1270 Web Site: www.vianaheal.com

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