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Think Healthy Thursday: Seasonal Affective Disorder and Vitamin D

super foodsWe are celebrating the fact that the days are stretching – but in Minnesota nights still seem long and cold. Many of us are feeling the drag ofso much darkness – some more than others. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can take its toll at this time of year. According to Wikipedia, SAD…

is a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter or summer, spring or autumn year after year. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), SAD is not a unique mood disorder, but is "a specifier of major depression"

Wikipedia also details symptoms…

Symptoms of SAD may consist of difficulty waking up in the morning, morning sickness, tendency to oversleep and over eat, especially a craving for carbohydrates, which leads to weight gain. Other symptoms include a lack of energy, difficulty concentrating on or completing tasks, and withdrawal from friends, family, and social activities and decreased sex drive. All of this leads to depression, pessimistic feelings of hopelessness, and lack of pleasure which characterize a person suffering from this disorder.People who experience spring and summer depression show symptoms of classic depression including insomnia, anxiety, irritability, decreased appetite, weight loss, social withdrawal, decreased sex drive  and suicide.

I think many of us feel some of those symptoms, whether we feel we have SAD or not. It turns out there’s a nutritional answer to help ward against and alleviate SAD – Vitamin D. A study out of The Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore compared the results of vitamin D and light therapy and found that vitamin D was better at warding off depression.

According to WebMD (via the Huffington Post) there are only a handful of foods that contain the nutrient naturally, which is part of the reason why only about 20 percent of our vitamin D comes from our diet. And apparently most of the vitamin D that we do get from the foods we eat comes from fortified foods, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements, like orange juice, milk and cereal. But there are some natural food that contain Vitamin D:

  • Salmon
  • Canned Tuna
  • Sardines
  • Mushrooms
  • Beef liver
  • Cheese
  • Egg Yolks

So next time you’re feeling blue, it might help to find a little cheese or cook up some salmon.

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