The winter is upon us and with that comes shorter days and less sunshine. Here in Canada, the days can be so short we start our day in the dark and return home from work in the dark. With that can come feelings of sadness and anxiety, lack of energy, and for some of us, depression can set in. This depression is often caused by a condition identified as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder
SAD is a condition brought on by changes of seasons. Although people can suffer from SAD during any time of the year, it is generally most prevalent in fall and winter and usually lasts through to the spring.
Many recent studies have shown that SAD has been linked to low vitamin D stores in the body. Our bodies do not produce vitamin D on their own so we must get our vitamin D from other sources. The main source of vitamin D is sunshine and, when winter hits, we are covered up and can’t get the sunshine we need to fill up those vitamin D stores. In summer, about 20 minutes in the sun with your skin exposed will give you the vitamin D you need. Health Canada recommends a minimum of 600iu of vitamin D per day.
Getting Your Vitamin D
It is difficult to get your recommended daily dose of vitamin D from food alone as few foods naturally contain Vitamin D. All milk and some orange juice products are fortified with vitamin D and fatty fish is a good source, including salmon and trout.
The best way to get your vitamin D is through vitamin supplements. This will ensure you are getting your recommended daily dose.
Other Ways to Combat SAD
Getting outside as much as possible is key to helping with SAD symptoms. Try to get out around noon when the sun is at its highest. Even if there is no sunshine, being outdoors will help.
Staying physically active is very important in the winter. The more physically active you are, the more energy you will have and, of course, the better you will feel.
Always maintain a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables.
There are several products available, from visors to table lights, that have been shown to help people with symptoms of SAD.
Seasonal Affective Disorder affects many people. If you find any of your symptoms are unmanageable or are affecting your daily routine, see your doctor for help.