Yawn, stretch, ahh. That extra hour of sleep felt great…that is, until five o’clock rolls around and you say sayonara to the sun. While ‘fall back’ isn’t as hard on the body as ‘spring forward,’ daylight saving time is still an adjustment. As sunlight begins to elude you, seek out some ways to keep your vitamin D production up and studies suggest you’ll be less affected by the dark days of winter.
Shorter Days, Longer Nights
As the earth travels around the sun this winter, our hemisphere ends up tilted away from the sun—hence the darker days. But just like anything else, it doesn’t last forever. After the shortest day of this year, December 21 (winter solstice), days will begin to lengthen again as the sun climbs higher in the sky.
If you’ve ever felt a bit down in the dumps or sluggish in the winter, you’re not alone. In fact, according to the Cleveland Clinic, around 10 percent to 20 percent of the U.S. population experiences the blues in the winter—and around 4 percent to 6 percent suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The latter condition, SAD, can increase or bring about symptoms like diminished energy, depression, anxiety, social withdrawal, poor concentration and more.
Those who go through a milder bout of melancholy may just need to increase vitamin D production to get a bounce back in their step. Research has shown a link between vitamin D deficiency and depression—and other studies have demonstrated that vitamin D treatment may fight off the symptoms of depression.
Increasing Vitamin D Production
Unlike other well-known vitamins only taken in through foods and supplements, the best way to get vitamin D is by absorbing UVB rays through bare skin. Not to worry though, there are other ways for you to get this essential vitamin:
Food sources. The top food sources for vitamin D are fatty fish, shiitake mushrooms, beef, egg yolks and Swiss cheese. Start your day with a hard-boiled egg (choose free-range, organic eggs), or grill some fish for dinner. Select fish with low mercury levels like Freshwater Coho salmon, wild-caught Alaskan salmon, mackerel and herring.
Light therapy. Full-spectrum light boxes have been increasing in popularity for combatting the symptoms of seasonal depression. Light therapy (also called phototherapy) mimics the effects of the sun and can increase your body’s vitamin D production. Purchase a light box and use it in the morning when you get up, or look for some full-spectrum light bulbs at your local hardware store.
Trusted supplements. We recommend getting your boost of D through food sources and light therapy, but sometimes it’s just not enough. If you do opt to take supplements, research supplements that go through trusted third-party testing and are certified organic.
If you are suffering from severe depression or feel suicidal, please reach out to a medical professional immediately.
Also, please discuss supplements with your primary care physician before adding them to your diet.