Holiday Survival Guide – 2 Vitamin D and Combating Seasonal Affective Disorder

Vitamin D and Combating Seasonal Affective Disorder

Vitamin D plays a crucial role in many bodily functions, and its deficiency has been linked to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) due to its connection with sunlight exposure. Here’s how Vitamin D influences SAD and strategies for combating it:

Vitamin D’s Benefits[i];

  • Reduced Fatigue[ii]
  • Better sleep[iii]
  • Helps combat depression or feelings of sadness[iv]
  • Helps combat loss of cognitive function[v]

Added Bonuses of Vitamin D;

Relationship Between Vitamin D and SAD:

  • Sunlight and Vitamin D: Sunlight exposure triggers the skin to produce Vitamin D. Reduced sunlight during fall and winter can lead to lower Vitamin D levels, potentially contributing to SAD.
  • Neurotransmitter Regulation: Vitamin D receptors are present in areas of the brain linked to mood regulation[xii][xiii]. Adequate Vitamin D levels may help regulate neurotransmitters associated with mood, potentially impacting SAD symptoms.

Combating SAD with Vitamin D:

  • Sunlight Exposure: Increasing exposure to natural sunlight, especially during the morning hours, can help the body produce Vitamin D. Spending time outdoors, even on cloudy days, can be beneficial. If you review the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, you will see that they mimic the same symptoms of insufficient vitamin D intake. More than 90% of systemic Vitamin D originates from the skin and around 10% from food intake[xiv], so sun lamps and sunshine appear to be the best option for obtaining vitamin D.

Dietary Sources: Consuming foods rich in Vitamin D, such as fatty fish (salmon, mackerel), fortified dairy products, eggs, and mushrooms, can supplement levels during darker months.

Vitamin D Supplements: If natural sources are insufficient, supplements can help maintain adequate levels. Consulting a healthcare professional for guidance on dosage is recommended.

Considerations for Vitamin D Supplementation

Consultation: It’s advisable to consult a healthcare provider before starting any supplementation regimen to determine the appropriate dosage.

Testing: Blood tests can measure Vitamin D levels and help determine if supplementation is necessary.

Balanced Approach: While Vitamin D supplementation may aid in combating SAD, it’s essential to approach treatment comprehensively, considering other therapies like light therapy, psychotherapy, or lifestyle changes.

Lifestyle Factors for SAD Management:

  • Light Therapy: Using lightboxes that emit bright artificial light can effectively alleviate SAD symptoms by compensating for reduced sunlight exposure[xv].
  • Exercise and Outdoor Activities: Regular physical activity, especially outdoors, can boost mood and contribute to overall well-being.
  • Healthy Diet and Sleep: Maintaining a balanced diet and regular sleep patterns can positively impact mood and energy levels. For example Sugar is one of the biggest problems when it comes to maintaining a well functioning immune system. While it should be considered part of a normal diet, it’s too important not to be listed by itself. You can easily ingest 100 grams (8 tbsp.) of sugar, by drinking one 12-ounce can of soda. This can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs by forty percent[xvi]. There are other forms of sugar that can also suppress our immune system. Other refined carbohydrates like cakes and concentrated fruit juices also reduce immune system response. Also, fructose is another food additive that should avoid. Pure fructose contains no nutritional value what so ever, it is devoid of enzymes, vitamins and minerals and robs the body of micronutrients [xvii][xviii]. In one study fructose appears to interfere with copper metabolism that collagen and elastin cannot form in growing animals[xix]. Children today are feed diets that are full of fructose additives. Fructose is one of the most used additives in the food industry. Next time you are shopping and pick up an item that is processed, or refined take a look at the ingredients, you might be in for a surprise. Even many children’s vitamins have fructose. Studies have also shown a diabetes link to fructose[xx] . Fructose also produces lower levels of the hormones leptin and insulin while glucose produces higher levels. Leptin and insulin levels are the trigger that produces the “fullness” while eating[xxi].

Conclusion: Vitamin D plays a significant role in combating Seasonal Affective Disorder by influencing mood regulation and neurotransmitter function. While increasing Vitamin D levels through sunlight exposure, diet, or supplementation can be beneficial, it’s crucial to consider a holistic approach to managing SAD, including professional guidance, therapy, and lifestyle adjustments, for comprehensive treatment and relief from symptoms.

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