SAD- seasonal affective disorder- or seasonal depression happens in the northern United States due to the lack of sunshine.
I am sure you have heard of it being because of a lack of Vitamin D. This is true. Let's dive into what is Vitamin D is and what it can do, but with less boring notations.
Vitamin D is what is nick-named "The Sunshine Drug". Vitamin D is brought into the body in two ways: through the skin and through the diet. Based on how it is brought into the body changes the way it is named. ( Also, the chemical structure but we will not go into detail on this.) D3 is through the skin from sunlight and D2 is through the intake of plants.
They both are broken down through the liver and helps with the following bodily functions:
Bones- creation and keeping bone health and density ( increasing calcium and phosphorus production)
Because it helps in bone health- many of the immune system cells are created in the bone which that indirectly boost the immune system.
Can have influence on the Thyroid, and parathyroid functions in depletion and toxic situations
In keeping that in mind one thing that we haven't discussed is the affect on mood due to the depletion of function that occurs in the northern half of the United States. Now, it is said that sunshine is strongest in the middle of winter just as it is strong in the middle of the summer months. So, why are we so low in areas like Detroit, MI and Buffalo, NY? We tend to sit in the house and get the dreaded, "cabin fever" of curling up and hanging out with Netflix. While that sounds well, we still need to have a meeting outside for at least 15 minutes absorbing the sunshine despite the temperatures.
While it is a lot to go outside and go for a walk, find creative ways to go outside during the winter chill.
Nature walk. We tend to go for a walk to our favorite nature preserve and see how different the forest looks opposed to how it looks in the summer months.
Winter festivals. There are areas where there are winter festivals. While most are indoors, park a ways away from the building and bundle up with the face exposed.
Begin winter walking or running. It has been studied that walking and/or running during the winter months has been shown to build up the immune system. Is that because we are exposing some of our skin to the sun? I hope so.
I have heard some Internists/functional medicine/naturopathic physicians speak on getting a pet. A dog in particular will help you get outside because. . .is Fido going to use the bathroom in your home? No. I will discuss this later about having a pet and what we like to mention as the microbiome is enhanced.
Sunbathing. There are actually people who will sit on their roofs in some major cities and sunbathe in the winter months. While many of us think these people are absolutely nuts- there is something to be said about people who perform those tasks. Less opportunity for osteoporosis- see how daring you can be about this.
I recommend actual sun opposed to artificial light. While it can be beneficial, there is still sketchy information regarding artificial light and until they give a full green light, I am on the fence with artificial light lamps. If there is no way that someone is able to go outside due to extreme cases such as hypothermia, disability, or a heightened sensitivity to the sun this may be a better option than no sun at all.
There is so much more to look into for vitamin D such as it has been used as a great tool in treating COVID. We will dive into vitamin D further but here are some recommendations on the amount of Vitamin D needed and where to get the best Vitamin D supplements because while you can pick this up at Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, or Dollar General- I am not so sure if they are what is best for absorption. Just remember, your body is a little selective about what it wants and what it doesn't.
Dietary forms of Vitamin D
Mushrooms! I had to exclaim this because that has become a new rage of mushrooms in the coffee. All forms of mushrooms have been known to contain Vitamin D which speeds up white blood cell production.
Fish. It is always in good measure to check sourcing of where the fish is coming from. As with Omega-3 intake for cold water fish such as tuna or salmon, Vitamin D is better from wild-caught fish as they are more exposed to eating algae rather than farm-raised. ( See how this is all linked.) Some sources note the skin of fish and even cod liver oil which I have heard of 20th century kids having to take it daily as routine. I currently attempt cod liver oil to my kids daily in juices I make that morning or in their milk
Other mild sources worth noting is eggs, beef liver, and some fortified cheeses but I do not recommend the cheeses as they are more inflammatory and the amount you are getting may not be worth it- I strongly do NOT recommend cheese if you are lactose intolerant.
Supplements. D3 is usually best as we are the most restricted and based on clothing, melanin in the skin it may take slightly more exposure. For people with darker skin, I recommend between 500 IU-1000 IU. Some sources state between 400-800 IU.
Biotics offers Bio-D-Mulsion which is one of their newer products and is in drop form if you would rather not take a pill. https://www.getbiotics.com/?code=DFILC559 (This is my personal website for this company. The rates should be lower than if you went to Amazon and ordered it from their site.)
There are Num, Goli, Ritual, Mary Ruth's, Garden of Life, Truvani, and Now products that are vegan/vegetarian. I am currently vegan and are slowly going through these products in order to tell you which is best. Because I have some history with Garden of Life I recommend this one over the others but I am always researching and looking out for the best product and deal so this is not my final answer on the best Vitamin D for vegetarians/vegans.
Go outside and laugh at the cold and enjoy the Vitamin D. Restore your spirit and we will chat more about Vitamin D because there is way more than what meets the eye.
To close this blog and to allow you into my world, here is a photo of my family going on a nature hike on Feb11th which we do to get out of the house and refresh our spirits and mind.