Somewhere in my late teens I discovered something about myself that was not pretty. Every winter I would go into a deep funk and wouldn’t pull out of it until April. It’s a pretty upsetting thing to face the fact that half the year I would not feel my best. The name for such an issue is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Recently, a link was established between Vitamin D deficiency and SAD. It makes sense, of course. Vitamin D is synthesized from cholesterol when the skin is exposed to sunlight. During the winter months, people tend to stay inside or, at least, completely cover themselves during the times they are outside. Pair that with the fact that 75% of the US population is already deficient in Vitamin D, and we have the makings for big problems. Are we about to see the return of rickets?!
For those of us without tropical vacations on the calendar this winter, we recommend taking a few extra steps to boost your vitamin D until the return of spring.
- Try to maximize your skin exposure when safe to do so. I know the tendency for most people is to go for the most comfortable you can possibly be and during cold weather that means thick coats, gloves, scarves and hats. For me, though, I try hard to not bundle up unless necessary. Unless the temperature puts me in danger of injury, I leave my jacket and hat at home and roll up my sleeves. In 40 or 50 degree weather, it’s not necessary. I’ve often shoveled snow in a tshirt. After all, physical exertion makes you hot. Another potential way to get more sun is to take your vacation in winter time instead of summer, if you’re intending to escape to warmer climates. Why visit Florida in July where it’s oppressively hot when you can go in January when it’s an amazing change of pace?
- Cook with pastured lard. Lard comes from the subcutaneous fat layer in a pig, right under the skin. This means that it is an excellent source of Vitamin D, one of the best because the pigs have already synthesized it for you! It may contain up to 500 IU of Vitamin D per teaspoon! But this only applies to pastured lard that is exposed to sunlight, so check with your local farmer or butcher.
- Fatty fish. Fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel are excellent sources of Vitamin D, particularly wild caught fish. Even your canned tuna or salmon would be great to add to your diet once or twice a week.
- Other seafood. While not as rich as salmon, other seafood such as shellfish, shrimp, and roe will also provide a great boost to your vitamin intake.
- Egg Yolks. Egg yolks, not whites, do contain a small amount of Vitamin D, especially pastured eggs, which contain up to 180 IU per egg.
- Cod Liver Oil. Probably the best supplement of them all, containing copious amounts of Omega-3 fats, Vitamin A and Vitamin D, cod liver oil an amazing nutrition source! We recommend Green Pastures fermented cod liver oil to anyone looking for that Vitamin boost!
- Phototherapy Light Boxes. A little extreme, and a little pricey, but if your problem is that you can’t go outside to meet the sun, the best solution may be to bring the sun inside to meet you! Phototherapy is now a well established treatment of SAD and the price of light boxes is now much more affordable than it was a decade ago.
We hope these tips will help you keep up your levels this winter so that you can emerge in April a healthier, happier you, instead of stomping out of your cave like a grumpy bear!