Are you tired, run down, listless? Are You Unpopular? Do You Poop Out At Parties?It may be the short days, long nights and lack of sunlight. You may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder
It hits me at this time every year. An overall feeling of malaise. It’s a recurring feeling of not being at 100% to the point that I start to
fantasize that something is wrong with me. Maybe I’m ill. Then it hits me that I felt like this at the same time last year and the year before that. It turns out I’m battling a very common condition: Seasonal Affective Disorder. I’m one of an estimated one billion people worldwide that suffers from the lack of sunlight from November through March.
People that live in northern latitudes are the most likely sufferers of SAD. Symptoms include less energy and ability to concentrate, daytime sleepiness, loss of interest in work and social activities and feeling sluggish and slow. For several years, before I realized what was really going on, I toughed it out until the days got longer and I could spend more time outdoors. Now I realize that supplementing with Vitamin D goes a long way to take the edge off and help me feel like I’m on top of my game even in the darkness.
Vitamin D 101
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that the body makes through a process triggered by the sun’s ultraviolet B rays on the skin. Vitamin D supports bone and heart health as well as the functions of the pancreas, muscles, brain and cells.
Vitamin D – or the lack of – has been in the news quite a bit recently because research suggests that sufficient levels of Vitamin D may protect against autoimmune diseases including multiple sclerosis, Chron’s disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, as well as colorectal cancer and chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Sources of Vitamin D
The best source for Vitamin D is sunlight, however, the increased use of sunscreens prevents many people from getting sufficient amounts from the sun. Plus some of live in parts of the world where there is minimal if any sunlight for five months out of the year.
Some of the best food sources are fortified dairy and cereal products, cod liver oil, herring, salmon, and SILK soy milk. For a complete list of food sources for Vitamin D check out the Nutrition Data web site.
Currently the recommended daily amount of Vitamin D is 200 IU for people up to age 50; 400 IU for people up to age 70; over age 70 it goes up to 600 IU. Most experts believe these recommendations are too low and agree that 2,000 IU is necessary to have an impact on disease prevention (or, in my opinion, attitude). They also agree that it may be difficult for most people to maintain the necessary amount of Vitamin D in their system throughout the winter months with supplements.
I Am Not A Doctor
I have taken it upon myself to supplement without a blood test or permission by a doctor. Since recent studies agree that up to 2,000 IU a day is sufficient to prevent disease and help with my case of the winter blahs I’m comfortable taking up to that amount daily.
A recent post on MSNBC’s Diet and Nutrition page does warn that too much Vitamin D – like too much of anything – can be harmful so people need to be careful not to overdo it with the supplements. In particular, people with atrial fibrillation should check with their doctors before increasing their levels of the nutrient. Anyone that feels they have a Vitamin D deficiency can ask their doctor for a routine blood test and dosage can be based on the results of that test.
Liquid D – I’m thinking what Lucy was really drinking was similar to my discovery of Vitamin D in liquid form. I’ve found the berry-flavored liquid to be my best option. The body is better able to absorb the liquid and it is easier to swallow than pills. The Wellesse brand is at Wal Mart for around $6.50.
Bright Light Therapy
Replacing the light you’re missing out on with a light box that contains fluorescent or full-spectrum lights is another way to combat SAD’s symptoms. It’s believed that light therapy helps restore circadian rhythms which control sleep/wake cycles and are disrupted by seasonal changes in daylight and the intensity of natural light from the sun. Light therapy that starts in the fall and continues until spring has been found to reduce the symptoms of SAD.