What is SAD?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or what is known as the ‘Winter Blues’ is a form of depression that the NHS estimates to affect approximately one in every 15 people in the UK between September and April, with symptoms particularly severe during December, January and February.

The term Seasonal Affective Disorder was first used in a paper by Norman Rosenthal and colleagues at the National Institute of Mental Health in the U.S. in 1984. Their research was based on thirty years of subsequent investigations into the disorder.

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Give me more Sunshine Vitamins!

One of the main culprits of SAD is lack of sunlight! The cells of our body thrive on light and actually produce much more efficient energy in the presence of light, which has a multitude of positive effects on our hormonal systems and the way we feel. And getting daily exposure to sunlight provides our bodies with a healthy dose of vitamin D, which is known as the ‘Sunshine’ vitamin.

Vitamin D has several important functions in the body. One of the most vital roles is regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorous, which is important for normal growth and development of bones and teeth. Many Arthritis sufferers often report that their symptoms worsen during the winter months!

Natural immune system booster!

Vitamin D also facilitates normal immune system function. Scientists at the University of Copenhagen have discovered that Vitamin D is crucial to activating our immune defences and that, without sufficient intake of the vitamin, the killer cells of the immune system – T cells – will not be able to react to and fight off serious infections in the body.

It is estimated that only a few hundred years ago 75% of the population would have worked outdoors in natural light, as opposed to only 10% presently. Concentrated city environments all see a higher number of sufferers, due to high office hours and less time spent outdoors.

Over 60% of people who suffer from SAD are women!

A study by the University of Rochester Medical Centre showed that nearly 70% of women with breast cancer are vitamin D deficient.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is one of the leading causes of infertility and research by the University of Edinburgh showed that most women with PCOS are vitamin D deficient.

How do I get more vitamin D?

Sunlight is the easiest and healthiest way to get sufficient vitamin D. When sun (specifically UV-B radiation) shines on our skin, our bodies make vitamin D. During winter, two to three hours of sun exposure a week, on the face, arms and hands, is all you need to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D.

What is SAD_2

Though for many this is quite hard, so taking a vitamin D3 (inactive form) supplement can be an alternative way of ensuring you get enough vitamin D (active form). The Vitamin D Council, based on research, recommends taking 5000iu a day to get sufficient amounts.

If you are then eating a balanced diet with seasonal vegetables, fruits, meat and fish, your body is then getting the right balance of nutrients to compliment this. Because, as we know, it’s the right balance of nutrients that keep us healthy.

To read more about Dean Griffith, visit his Expert Profile.

Research:

Vitamin D controls T cell antigen receptor signalling and activation of human T cells

Women With Breast Cancer Have Low Vitamin D Levels 

Vitamin D Deficiency is common and associated with Metabolic Risk Factors in patients with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome 

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