Summer Prescriptions

The sunshine that summer days bring us also sees a change in our diets. Some how the warmer weather makes us not have the urge to eat heartily and we are more into lighter and smaller meals – sales of seafood are on the increase during this time as a result.

The impression is that the country seems a healthier place in summer and generally with the longer daylight hours (how silly are we with our daylight time zones?) we all seem to have an extra zip about us. Of course the sun gives us some health-giving solar radiation but our diet during summer also helps.

The main source of protective vitamin D in the human body is sunshine, and its protective role in gene regulation is now well established. Limiting sun exposure to 20 – 30 minutes prior to application of a safe sunscreen, or clothing protection, may be the ideal choice for protection, while optimizing vitamin D production.
Fish/seafood it must be remembered is not a one-trick pony, as our American friends would say. There are many nutrients found in fish/seafood. Fish/seafood is just about the only naturally-rich source, outside of the sun, of vitamin D. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient, which means the body absorbs it alongside fats and oils you eat – oily fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel are the highest in vitamin D. People with low vitamin D may not have optimal calcium absorption and can develop brittle bones. Vitamin D may also play a role in preventing diseases including heart disease, some cancers, and one recent study (http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20080811/low-level-of-vitamin-d-ups-death-risk) suggests, prevention of premature death altogether.
Scientific evidence that supplementation from Omega 3, in the form of EPA/DHA suggests that it may provide added protection by inhibiting the development and progression of a range of human cancers (including melanoma).
Most of us have an imbalance of excessive Omega 6 intake (vegetable oils) relative to Omega 3 (fish oils) and research suggests this presents a risk for several chronic diseases, including cancer. Omega 3, but not Omega 6, inhibits AP-I activity and cell transformation in JB6 cells, a process that leads to cancer development. EPA (Omega 3 marine oils) provides added protection against skin cancer in dosages of 1000mg daily.
Most people would also be aware that all fish/seafood have excellent Omega 3 levels, in the form of EPA/DHA and may provide added protection by inhibiting the development and progression of a range of human cancers, including melanoma.
For those who think this is all too hard it should be noted that sun avoidance is potentially more harmful that sun exposure. Evidence from several studies over the past two decades (Grant 2009 & Tang 2010) suggests that the increasing numbers of human cancers that have been documented are linked to low vitamin D levels, arising from fearful avoidance of sun exposure. Avoiding the sun altogether is likely to lead to severe deprivation of vitamin D, with dire consequences for health.
The risks for compromised health and diminished protection against a wide range of debilitating human disorders, which may include heart disease and cancer, are greater for sun avoidance than for sun exposure.
There is some confusion about exactly how long you can stay in the sun and whether sunscreen actually assists. Earlier research (Ann Epidemiol 17 (12): 956-63, Gorham, E.D. and Am J.Public Health. 82 (4): 614-5) concluded that melanoma risks are increased with sunscreen use and prolonged sun exposure. However a recently published Australian study (J of Clinical Ontology 2010, 29: 257-263) suggests that sunscreen use may reduce the risk of melanoma. Then there is evidence to suggest, that in addition to their limited protection capacity, many commonly used sunscreen lotions are potentially toxic and increase the risk of developing skin cancer. So be on the safe side take your sun in small doses and get some recommendations on the type of sunscreen! A good guide for sunscreens can be obtained at http://www.cancervic.org.au/store/summer05_sunscreen1&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_content=Sunscreen&utm_campaign=Shop.
Blood levels of vitamin D3 should be evaluated to determine risk status, and controlled sun exposure, avoiding sunburn, should be encouraged by healthcare professionals, and routinely practiced as part of a healthy lifestyle habit.
Acknowledgements: All information is subject to reading and learning and we would like to acknowledge these websites where further information is available http://www.seafoodsource.com/newsarticledetail.aspx?id=4294990613 ; http://drnevillewilson.com/about-me/ ; http://www.aboutseafood.com/health-nutrition/

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