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Feeling Depressed? Get Your D!

Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on December 30, 2009 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Blog

People who know me often describe me a being a sunny personality. I agree! I tend to look on the bright side of life, and consider myself to be an eternal optimist.

But come the winter months, I find myself a little less sunshiny – and even a little down. I can be quite pooped out, achy, without energy, and moody – which is totally not normal for me! Thankfully, after a particularly slow, slightly SAD winter last year, I learned that my symptoms were related to a Vitamin D deficiency.

This deficiency is commonly seasonal: most Vitamin D is made when skin is exposed to sunlight, and since during the darker months our planet moves away from the sun – colder weather means most of us don’t spend time outdoors. So instead of a healthy store of Vitamin D, we end up with an unhealthy store of Vitamin Depression – the winter blues! It is so common, in fact, that researchers have classified winter depression as a seasonal mood disorder, often referred to as “seasonal affective disorder, or SAD“.
For people suffering from SAD-like symptoms: difficulty waking up in the morning, tendency to oversleep as well as to overeat, and especially a craving for carbohydrates – which leads to weight gain treatment can be simple. Supplementing with Vitamin D and eating D-rich foods like salmon, sardines, shrimp, milk, cod and eggs, can significantly enhance Vitamin D stores. We need the sun, too! I’m not saying go get a tan, of course – a 15 minute walk per day, exposing the hands, face, or legs to sunlight, is perfectly enough. And the added exercise benefit gives us all a boost!
Recently I purchased a light-box, which I use between 30 – 60 minutes every morning. I just run it on, and go about my business – it’s just like being outside! While there are many light-boxes available on-line, I found mine HERE. I have found that coupled with my diet and walks, the light-box has also helped me have way more energy this season – and I have upped my thrill-ness to normal!
On another note, while winter blues can signal deficient d’s, a deficiency in Vitamin D can often be more serious than just a case of the blahs. Without this vitamin, children can develop bone deformities or growth retardation, and as adults we can suffer from bone fractures, bone pain and soft bones. Back in my Grandmama’s day, a spoonful of cod liver oil – rich in D – was given to all children to avoid rickets, a childhood disease characterized by improper bone development. In fact, I remember my own Momma giving me a daily dose (usually cut with peppermint or cherry, which did nothing to disguise the taste). Today, eating Vitamin D-rich foods and supplementing when necessary, coupled with 10 – 15 minutes of sun exposure daily, protects us from a range of physical and mental ailments.
As we move towards the dead of winter and into a new year, I wish you a report card full of D’s! The most healthy, happy kind, of course.
Love and happiness, Sage
Read also: Kids and Germs – They Go Hand-in-Hand!

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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