Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) is a REAL thing!! Check out this Boston Globe Article reporting groundbreaking research on the importance of Vitamin D and Brain Function. Lack of Vitamin D leads to impulsiveness, aggression, anger, unhappiness and the shutdown of long-term decision making.
What helps? Getting SUNLIGHT and eating foods that is rich in Vitamin D like fatty fish, cheese, egg yolks and beef liver (Google “Vitamin D rich foods” if none of those mentioned are appetizing to you). Supplementation is inconclusive according to researchers. However, most agree that there’s a correlation between low body levels of Vitamin D and mood disorders.
Back in 2007, I moved up to Canada from the U.S. for love. It wasn’t the first time I moved somewhere for romance – Guam being one of them!
Moving to Vancouver, British Columbia meant that I would experience my first legitimate winter, which was pretty non-existent growing up and living in California. The plan would be to go to Whistler and snowboard, join an ice hockey league, drink STRANGE BREW and smash into things. Ironically, I did none of those things while living in the Great White North. I did hike in the snow with the dogs and ice skate at the local rink but mostly I shoveled the driveway and hung out indoors, staying warm. Talk about getting CABIN FEVER!!! As far as I know, Cabin Fever is not an official medical diagnosis, YET! LOL!
After the first couple of fun winters, the novelty wore off and I GOT S.A.D.! I seriously thought that Seasonal Affective Disorder was a joke UNTIL it happened to me. The closest similar experience I had to this low-grade depression was growing up in the fog of San Francisco. Now, I never got diagnosed with S.A.D. as I’m not a big fan of seeing doctors unless it’s an emergency or for getting a checkup. But MAN, did I have the WINTER BLUES! (DISCLAIMER: IF YOU HAVE SERIOUS MOOD FLUCTUATIONS THAT ARE NOT SUN, SLEEP, EXERCISE, AND/OR NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENCIES, GO GET GENETIC TESTING FROM YOUR DOCTOR.)
So, what was the “cure?” MOVING TO HAWAII. It was there that I realized that I NEED THE SUN. I also experimented with eating a higher healthy fat diet (contrary to the USDA Food Pyramid Guidelines) having discovered Bulletproof Coffee before leaving Canada. Bulletproof coffee is a whole ‘nother enchilada?! It has its upsides & downsides.
(Update: Even living in Hawaii during the winter isn’t going to help restore Vitamin D deficiency as my friend, Jess, alluded to after reading this post. She gets up at the crack of dawn, works at a hospital all day and finishes at dusk. At lunchtime, she is usually running errands?! She has a self-made diagnosis – Work Affective Disorder. LOL!).
The point is: Instinctively, I always knew I needed the sun and a higher healthy fat diet (NOTICE I DIDN’T SAY JUNK FAT!) but I believed that I was immune to the forces of nature. Ha! Mother Nature always has the last laugh. For all of my peeps in not-so-sunny-parts of the world, get out WHENEVER THE SUN IS OUT!
Years ago, my Canadian buddy Lucas who lives on the Northwest Coast (where there is the least amount of sun in the winter) quit his jobs and became a freelancer just so he could drop work whenever he needed to stand under the big fiery globe!! He starts upping his vitamin D even before winter comes so that he has a good foundation before the darkness sets in.
So there you have it…up on your Vitamin D before winter comes!! Although Vitamin D supplementation is inconclusive, consider taking Vitamin D supplements during the winter. Experiment with a small dose and build from there to see if you have a sunnier disposition. Be careful not to take toxic dosages!! Do your best to get most of your Vitamin D from natural non-synthetic sources as possible. Check out this Vitamin D Sweetspot Video!
There are so many fad diets out there?? WTF!!! We’re getting closer to the days of cheap genetic testing where with a swab inside of our cheek or a simple blood test; we’ll know what our genetic predispositions are and what our bodies actually need or do NOT need. Supplementation is hit or miss if you are not testing for your deficiencies. In the near future, I will actually get my body tested so I can optimize my health. If you’re interested too, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, GO OUTSIDE and catch some RAYS. We all know we feel good when we’re basking in the Sun. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know this. BUT USE COMMON SENSE!! Too much sun is bad; too little sun is bad. Find the optimal amount right for you.
And finally, GORGE ON VITAMIN D RICH FOODS!!!