Today I have a seasonal Body Sass? tip for you, because I don?t want you to feel S.A.D.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects up to 10 million people in the U.S. Symptoms include extreme fatigue, getting too much sleep, craving empty carbs, low self-esteem, difficulty concentrating, and weight gain. The great news is that, with mindful attention, it is avoidable! Yay.
Getting bright light first thing in the morning (light therapy), melatonin therapy, and ensuring adequate levels of Vitamin D can all help. Researchers are now discovering that Vitamin D may play an important part in affecting depression, and in your state mental health. So let?s explore?
Unfortunately, we receive very little useable vitamin D from food sources. We rely on sun exposure to make all of the vitamin D we need. Except that the sun can?t do that for us all year, for most of the U. S. And frankly, many of us spend a lot of time inside. For instance, if you live in an area where the latitudes equivalent to New England, there are only 4 months of the year where you can make adequate vitamin D from sun exposure. But don’t despair! Here?s what you need to know?
Bottom line is, if you live in the U.S., especially at the higher latitudes, you very likely need to take supplementary vitamin D:
- Form: vitamin D3, preferably in capsules that contain 2,000 IUs per capsule; brand is not important
- Amount: 6,000 ? 8,000 IUs per day
- Note: Be sure to take it with a fat, as it is a fat-soluble vitamin. Fish oil, butter, olive oil, eggs, or any (healthy) fat.
?Gosh, Laurie, why so much?!? Good question. When you go out in the sun on a day in June between 10am ? 3pm, with your arms and face exposed, with no sunscreen on, you make about 10,000 ? 20,000 IUs of vitamin D in about 25 minutes (!!!), and then the mechanism in your skin ?shuts down.? Interesting, eh? This is why the measly RDA of 600 IUs/day is just plain silly. The RDAs are set to avoid pathology (in this case, to avoid developing rickets, a bone disorder directly linked to low vitamin D), not to optimize health!
That said, ideally, you ask your primary care physician to run a vitamin D blood test on you. Be sure to ask for the actual levels from the test, and you want your blood level to be between 50-80 ng/ml for optimal health. If they are below that, use the suggested dosing above. Most New Englanders are deficient. I have yet to have a client that wasn?t deficient in vitamin D upon first testing.
Vitamin D is vitally important in many areas of health, regulating over 5% of our gene expression. Cardiovascular health, bone health, cancer avoidance, immune vitality, and brain health are all strongly linked to optimal levels of vitamin D in the body. Yup, THE BRAIN?vitamin D definitely acts in the areas of the brain that are linked to depression, but the research is young and we are still learning exactly how Vitamin D works in the brain.
Mindful health choices are my favorite form of prevention! If you are prone to SAD, here are some additional tips:
- Engage in regular exercise. Exercise is the better for avoiding and healing depression than any medication out there.
- Optimize your Omega-3 intake. Animal-based omega-3 fats are important in all kinds of health aspects, including brain and emotional health. 1,200 mg. of omega-3?s per day is a good general target for intake.
- Go to bed early. We are biologically designed to rise and sleep with sun.
- Avoid empty carbs. Sugar and grains increase the risk of insulin resistance, which is linked to depression (and diabetes!).
Check me out on Periscope! You can follow me there: @LaurieWarren12. I have made a commitment to myself to ?Scope 5 days a week for the next 4 weeks, and then decide if it?s proving helpful for people, and if it?s a good fit for me. Would love to see you there!
Creating vibrant health is a process, not a prescription.
With love & brain health,