Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Seasonal Affective Disorder and Vitamin D: What you Need to Know

The dark and dreary days of winter can make you and your children feel less than stellar at times.
You may attribute your low energy and lackluster drive to the cold, dark days; however, there is often a medical reason behind these symptoms, and it’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD, in short, is a condition that affects people psychologically when they do not receive enough natural light. The short, dark winter days of the great white north makes Canadians more at risk of the disorder, and symptoms include decreased energy, sadness and anxiety, and difficulty concentrating, among other symptoms.

Thankfully, there is an easy solution that can greatly reduce the severity of these symptoms.
The simple answer is to increase your vitamin D intake. According to Dr. Samantha Kimball, Scientific Advisor for the Vitamin D Society, vitamin D levels in the body fluctuate with the seasons – they tend to be higher in Spring and Summer, and lower in Fall and Winter.  Consequently, low levels vitamin D match periods of depression in SAD patients.

And although SAD is a complex condition with many contributing factors, there is strong evidence that vitamin D can help fight the symptoms of SAD. Vitamin D is naturally generated in the body when we are exposed to sunlight and helps to reduce inflammation, which is linked to depression. When you take a Vitamin D supplement, it mimics the natural production, and thus helps to reduce SAD’s symptoms. 

Overall, a daily supplement of Vitamin D can help to maintain a healthy immune system, and positively affect mood by influencing areas of the brain where happiness and other moods are regulated. Vitamin D also helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, which can mean healthier sleep patterns.

For Canadians looking to decrease their chances of developing SAD, Dr. Kimball, and the Vitamin D Society recommend a daily supplementation of 4,000 IU or more for adults. You can get your Vitamin D in capsule or liquid form.

It’s also important to remember that due to the complexity of SAD etiology, not everyone will respond to vitamin D treatment. The Vitamin D Society urges all Canadians to have their vitamin D levels checked by their physicians through a simple blood test to ensure they aren’t deficient.

To learn more about vitamin D please visit

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