How Can Vitamins And Sunshine Help You Fight Against SAD?

These winter months can really drain your emotional wellbeing. The days are shorter and the sun rarely shines, which can cause you to feel non-energetic, unmotivated or even hopeless. However, the winter doldrums may not be the singular cause of these depressive feelings; you may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mild-to-moderate form of depression that you develop when you have a lack of exposure to natural sunlight. According to Patti Sabla, a therapist for South Jersey Health Care’s intensive outpatient program, your body’s internal clock becomes disrupted by SAD and your ‘Serotonin levels drop due to a lack of exposure to light.’

Even the days of sunshine that winter brings are shorter, and the weather is colder, meaning you have less time in the natural sunlight. Sabla says, ‘The problem increases the further away from the equator you get. It’s certainly a common thing and the onset can occur between the ages of 18 and 30.’ But short of moving to Ecuador, is there anything you can do to combat SAD?

Many of the wellness symptoms of SAD come down to a deficiency in vitamin D, says Sharon Roth Maguire, a geriatric nurse practitioner and senior vice president of Quality and Clinical Operations for BrightStar Care. This deficiency commonly occurs in winter months, and there are studies that show a link between low levels of vitamin and certain mood disorders, including SAD. This is hardly surprising, as you get vitamin D from sunlight, and according to Maguire, without it you can experience mood changes and unhappiness.

So how can you fight back? Firstly, Maguire recommends getting outside whenever you can, even if it’s something as simple as walking to a café on a sunny day or taking the dog to the park in the afternoon. Not only will this improve your mood, but the exercise will help you keep your muscles, bones, and joints strong and flexible. On days you can’t get out of the house, placing a natural light box in the living room or common area can help give your body the natural boost it needs to fight SAD.

Finally, incorporate some vitamin supplements into your diet. Vitamin D can increase your sense of wellbeing, improve your sleep patterns and contribute to your bone health. Also, the vitamins B6 and B12 help to maintain Serotonin levels, meaning they can help you to reduce irritability, weakness, insomnia and nervousness. However, remember to consult your health care provider regarding appropriate doses and safety measures when taking any new vitamin or mineral supplement.


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