The Healthy Truth: How to improve mood and get enough vitamin D in the winter

By: Emily Lunardo | General Health | Tuesday, January 31, 2017 - 05:00 AM

Healthy-truth-mood-vitamin-DDear Friends,

Is it spring yet? Why is winter taking so long?! And the sad part is, there’s still quite some time to go until it’s all over. But before the spring’s back, we’re all left contemplating whether we should hibernate like a bear.

If you are into winter sports, you’re probably out snowboarding, skating, and enjoying every sip of hot chocolate you can. But if you’re like me, winter can be a long-running, miserable season, which has you counting down for warmer weather.

What really gets me down about winter is how dark it is throughout the day! Frankly, I can’t even recall how many times I was graced by the sun’s warm rays so far.

As you know, when we are exposed to sunlight, our body begins production of vitamin D, which is essential for strong bones, teeth, and muscles. But aside from vitamin D, sunlight has been found to play a role in our mood, too. Ever heard of SAD? Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) commonly occurs in the winter months, and researchers speculate it results from a lack of sunlight, which can negatively impact your mood. Why, you might ask? Well, light and darkness are responsible for triggering the production of certain hormones in the brain. When we are exposed to sunlight, serotonin is released, which is associated with an elevated mood. When it is dark, then melatonin is produced and released, which is why we feel tired and sleepy.

In the winter months, clearly, we don’t get as much sunlight as we do during the spring and summer. As a result, hormone levels can fluctuate, and melatonin can be produced during waking hours, making us feel tired and low.

As you can see, the winter season can be quite depressing, and if you’re not mindful of this you can very easily slip into a seasonal depression. So, if you’re looking to maintain a healthy mood while achieving adequate vitamin D levels this winter, you’ll want to follow the tips below.

How to boost mood and get enough vitamin D in the winter

  • Eat foods rich in vitamin D like oily fish, red meat, and eggs.
  • Purchase foods that are enriched with vitamin D such as some breakfast cereals or milk products.
  • Invest in a light box which exposes you to artificial light that can work to improve your mood.
  • Eat mood-boosting foods such as fresh fruit and even chocolate. (Avoid foods that can worsen your mood, like artificial sugars and carbohydrates.)
  • Exercise regularly, this not only improves mood but keeps your bones strong, too.
  • Listen to upbeat and happy music.
  • Get outside as much as possible. Your mood will improve and you may still be able to benefit from the sun’s rays, even if they are hidden behind some clouds.
  • Talk to your doctor about vitamin D supplementation.
  • Take a vacation – if you really can’t take the dark days of winter any longer, hop on a plane to a sunny destination. Studies have shown that simply booking a vacation is enough to improve a person’s mood.

These are just some tips on how you can better survive winter by elevating your mood and amping up your intake of vitamin D. Sure, the winter may seem long, but you don’t need to be miserable while waiting for it to be over.

Until next week,

Emily Lunardo


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Related Reading:

Sleep apnea affects mood, thinking ability

Serotonin deficiency causes depression, mood disorders

Sources:

http://www.realsimple.com/health/mind-mood/emotional-health/winter-blues
http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Summerhealth/Pages/vitamin-D-sunlight.aspx

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