Seasonal Affective Disorder Treatment | Healthy Habits Living

The S.A.D. Reality of Vitamin D Deficiency

by Carly Neubert, BA, NC April 17, 2019

Vitamin D deficiency is rampant. Some studies show that up to 97% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D. Most people don’t think about Vitamin D until the summer sun fades and the winter gloom appears. This is the time you may begin to feel the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.).

There have been only a few studies on Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) and they conclude that around 10% of people in the U.S. experience S.A.D. I tend to think that a lot more people get S.A.D., but they don’t recognize the signs. Some may notice more moodiness or fatigue of feeling “blue” during the winter months.  

Here are some additional warning signs you can look out for:

  • Loss of interest in life and can’t enjoy anything
  • Finding it difficult to make decisions or concentrate
  • Feeling unhappy most of the time
  • Feeling tired and having problems sleeping
  • Loss of confidence and self-esteem
  • Avoiding other people
  • Feeling numb, despairing and empty
  • Suicidality

I, like 19 million other Americans, experience depression. In addition, I experience S.A.D which means the symptoms get even worse during the winter. High doses of Vitamin D are the foundation of my wellness plan for combating S.A.D.

Why Are We Vitamin D Deficient?

Between work, commuting, cooking, cleaning, and personal time, people are spending about 90% of their time indoors. Even if you feel good with your routine, the next impact of staying inside is negative. It is common knowledge that the sun provides us with plentiful amounts of vitamin D. But how are we supposed to get that crucial vitamin when we stay inside or cover our skin a majority of our lives?

Unfortunately, we live in a modern world where we rarely spend time outdoors.  When we do take the infrequent occasion to go outdoors, our bodies are usually covered up by clothing or sunscreen. These common practices have led to the epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency.

Test Your Own Vitamin D Levels

Measuring Vitamin D Levels

If you can relate with any of these symptoms listed above or if you simply can't tell if you're vitamin D deficient, you can learn more about testing your own Vitamin D levels by reviewing the info in my Winter Wellness Blog.

Vitamin D is vital for overall health. It plays a crucial role in supporting your muscles and bones as well as the immune system, lungs, heart, and brain. It is the only vitamin that your body can produce on its own. When your skin is exposed to the sun, the UVB rays collect in your skin. The rays convert specific molecules into active Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). The Vitamin D3 then travels to your liver and kidneys where it becomes the hormone version (calcitriol) of Vitamin D. From there, it will either manage calcium in your blood, bones, and guts, or it will aid cell communication throughout your whole body. Without vitamin D, your body will not perform to its full potential.

What To Do If You're Vitamin D Deficient?

If you think you are deficient in Vitamin D, there are simple solutions that can improve your overall health without completely changing your lifestyle. The first great way to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder is to get outside more. By exposing your skin to direct light, you are giving your body enough time to produce vitamin D without burning or tanning it.

It is important to make sure you are outside at the right time of day. It has been proven that your skin will produce more Vitamin D during mid-day when the sun is the strongest. The closer to the equator you live, the easier it will be to absorb the proper amount of sunlight. There are other factors that reduce your Vitamin D production. If you live in an area with significant air pollution, more UVB rays from the sun are reflected back into space, meaning less sun rays on your skin. This can extend the amount of time you will need exposure to the sun.

Also as you age, your body naturally slows down the production of Vitamin D. Tanning beds can work as long as you don’t get sunburned. Vitamin D supplements and medication have become the easiest and well-recognized source of Vitamin D since the landmark study of 2009.

Various studies suggest 1000-4000 iu per day for adults to maintain adequate levels of Vitamin D. Recent studies have demonstrated safety at 10,000-20,000 ius per day. Many people find it convenient to take 50,000 iu one time per week. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin so it is best to take it with a meal that includes fat. I recommend taking a handful of nuts or tablespoon of nut butter along with your Vitamin D supplement.

What to do if You're Blue and Can't Swallow?

A vitamin D supplement is fairly easy to take and can do the trick for most, but what if you can’t swallow pills? I get this questions a lot; some of my clients have strong gag reflexes or experience nausea when swallowing supplements and they need an alternative. 

Another big issue I find with my clients is compliance. They have good intentions to take their supplements, but they just forget. Aren't we all guilty of this at some point? So what can you do if you can't swallow pills or keep forgetting to take them?

Vitamin D Alternative Solutions

I have answers to both of these problems and they can be your solution to S.A.D. symptoms and low vitamin D levels. First, there's Replesta: a chewable Vitamin D3 wafer. It contains 50,000 iu per dose and can be taken 1 time per week. A high dose of Vitamin D3 is recommended for those who have a very low Vitamin D level.

Second, once your Vitamin D levels reach a healthy range, I recommend Replesta Nx as a maintenance dose. These two supplements are perfect for:  

  1. Anyone experiencing symptoms of S.A.D.
  2. Anyone who can’t or doesn’t like swallowing capsules  
  3. Anyone who forgets to take their supplements every day---these are 1 time per week supplements

Need Help?

Now that you know that Vitamin D deficiency can cause symptoms, you need to follow up. The next task is to actually take the supplements and monitor your Vitamin D levels. If that sounds overwhelming, just set up a consultation with me and I can guide you through the process.

Paying attention to your vitamin D levels can be all that it takes to make your life naturally happier and get rid of your S.A.D. symptoms.

 

Other Resources

https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/health-conditions/depression/

http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinfoforall/problems/depression/depression.aspx

http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/depression/#.VorNTPkrKM8

http://www.allaboutdepression.com/gen_01.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23377209

http://www.aafp.org/afp/2000/0301/p1531.html




Carly Neubert, BA, NC
Carly Neubert, BA, NC

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