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. ****

I am a pretty environmentally-aware person, to the point where my ex-sister-in-law used to call me a “conservative hippie” (and I took it as a compliment).  I fully believe in the part of the Bible that says:

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. (Genesis 2:15)

… as well as the part that says:

God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them         reflecting our nature     So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,         the birds in the air, the cattle,     And, yes, Earth itself,         and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”     God created human beings;         he created them godlike,     Reflecting God’s nature.         He created them male and female.     God blessed them:         “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!     Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,         for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.”       (Genesis 1:26-28 – The Message translation)

Because of this, I’ve always tried to look out for my environment.  Lately, though, I’ve been failing a bit. The UCR Wellness Center uses these standards for environmental wellness:

  • Do I recycle?
  • If I see a safety hazard, do I take steps to fix the problem?
  • Do I volunteer my time to worthy causes?
  • Am I aware of my surroundings at all times?

I would add to this list as well:

  • Am I educated on what is occurring in my environment?
  • Do I make changes to my lifestyle to support the environment?
  • Do I put my money where my mouth is?

I do recycle, fairly consistently.  I try to fix safety issues and I’m probably hyper-aware of my surroundings.  I’m also fairly educated.  But I haven’t been volunteering at anything (working on fixing that!) and my lifestyle has been sliding in the other direction.  My life is less environmentally sound than it used to be.

Here are my three goals for each area:

Short-Term (3 months)

* Volunteer at least one day a week

* As I use up cleaners and personal care products, replace them with less toxic options

* Go organic for the Dirty Dozen… or do without

Medium-Term (One Year)

* Support at least one environmental group (do the research) financially

* Learn to make my own cleaners and personal care products from scratch

* Start a pesticide-free garden OR start buying local, organic produce

Long-Term (Five Years +)

* Remove toxic items like many plastics and chemically-treated items from my home life

* Only eat what I grow, cook, or buy organically 75% of the time

* Be more active in my environmental activism

The long-term goals may be a little bit ambitious.  I can always revise them when I  check back in three months.  For now, this is where I’m heading.  How about you?