Everyday Girl Guide to: Happiness (SAD and Vitamin D)

May 13, 2014

We’re heading into the warm summer months here in Southern California, where the sun shines every day from 5-something in the morning until after 8 p.m. in the evening.  Normally, this is plenty of sunshine… if you get out in it.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is still characterized as something that strikes as the sunlit days give way to longer and longer nights.  But there are many people who now suffer from a version of SAD even during the summer.  Either night shift work or just an aversion to go outside leads to depression during summer months.

The Mayo Clinic recommends seeing a doctor, but for at-home treatment, it suggests getting outside within a few hours of waking, sitting close to a brightly lit window during the day, and exercise.  Another way to possibly reduce depression is through Vitamin D.  Either in pill form or sunlight form, this “sunshine vitamin” (which isn’t a vitamin at all) is a huge part of how we feel.

There are only so many natural sources of Vitamin D:

  • 3.5 oz salmon (360 IU Vitamin D)
  • 3.5 oz mackerel (345 IU Vitamin D)
  • 3.5 oz canned tuna (200 IU Vitamin D)
  • 8 oz fortified orange juice (100 IU Vitamin D)
  • 8 oz fortified milk (98 IU Vitamin D)
  • 1 serving fortified breakfast cereal (40-100 IU Vitamin D)

According to Harvard Medical School, those who have trouble digesting dietary fat (or maybe even those who are eating a low-fat diet?) and those with liver or kidney disease will have a hard time getting enough Vitamin D from food sources or supplements (1000-1200 IU recommended per day).  But most of us don’t get enough sunlight, especially during the middle of the day, when UV-B rays are strongest and we can absorb the most.

“But, wait, I’ve been told to cut down my sun exposure!”  Cut it down, yes.  If you’re fair-skinned and live below the 37th degree above the equator, you need about 10 minutes a day of unprotected sunlight.  If you have a tan or are darker-skinned, you will likely need more.

So I’m not going to be giving up sunscreen and smart sun protection, but I’m not going to slather on UV-50 for a lunchtime walk– not if I keep it under 30 minutes most days.

I’m hoping remembering to get my Vitamin D, whether through sunlight, food, or supplements, will help me keep a better attitude.  It will certainly reduce my chances of osteoporosis.


****  NOTE:  I am not a medical professional.  I do my best to do my homework, but please do your own and talk to your doctor before making any decisions about anything I post. ****

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