Ever wonder why you feel tired, depressed, and less motivated when it’s dark and gloomy outside? No, you’re not going crazy. Gloomy weather and lack of sunshine absolutely affects your well-being. According to studies, rampant Vitamin D deficiency (due to lack of sunshine) is the cause of a host of ailments from depression to low bone density and certain types of cancers, including breast, colon, prostate, and pancreatic cancer. A study conducted by the University of Washington by heart surgeon Dr. Donald Miller Jr. found that out of 78 tested patients, three-quarters had Vitamin D deficiency. That means up to 75% of people are unknowingly putting their health at risk.
Another study of 1,739 residents in the Boston area found pretty shocking results. Rates of heart ailments such as stroke, heart attack, and heart failure were about 50 percent higher in those with low levels of Vitamin D. And if you thought that was disturbing, lack of Vitamin D is also believed to be one of the reasons northern states have twice as many cases of multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases as southern states. Not surprisingly, multiple sclerosis in gloomy Washington is one of the highest in the nation.
So, how can we make sure we’re getting the proper levels of Vitamin D and sun exposure? For those of us who live in gloomy environments or spend most of our days inside, it’s essential that we pay attention to our Vitamin D levels. While we don’t recommend going to tanning beds or sunbathing for hours, there are a few sun-free ways of maintaining sufficient levels of Vitamin D.
If you’re feeling depressed, sluggish and you live in a gloomy environment and/or spend a lot of time inside, get your Vitamin D levels checked. Given that an estimated 40% to 75% of people are Vitamin D deficient, it could very well be the cause of your exhaustion and low mood.
Supplements are a quick, inexpensive, and easy way to ensure you get the proper amount of Vitamin D. Doctors recommend 600 UI per day for adults up to age 69. Adults over 70 should take at least 800 IU per day due to aging and their skin’s decreased ability to produce Vitamin D naturally.
Fish such as salmon, trout, swordfish, and tuna are the best food-based sources of Vitamin D. Portobello, maitake, and morel mushrooms are also another excellent source. Additionally, dairy products such as eggs, yogurt, milk, and cheese have high levels of Vitamin D. For those who are lactose intolerant or vegan, almond, soy, and rice milk are an excellent alternative for getting Vitamin D in your diet.
If you can’t get real sunlight, you might as well buy it! Sun lamps mimic natural daylight and have been proven to help regulate sleep cycles, lift the mood, and treat SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) -a mood disorder caused by winter and lack of sunshine.