How Vitamins Affect Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder, as you know already, is an aberrant mental health condition that ‘sets in’ and ‘goes away’ according to a particular time of the year. Most individuals who suffer from this condition have normal mental condition throughout the year- but during winters or summers they suffer from significant mood swings, involving anxiety, lethargy and complete disinterest in any kind of activity. Now, there is a close and important connection of certain vitamins with the seasonal affective disorder. And in this article we are not only going to find out that connection, but also find a way to cure seasonal affective disorder through them.
Vitamin D and SAD
As you must know by now, most cases of SAD are reported during the colder months of the year, the winter. But, another thing you must know is that SAD can also occur to individuals who don’t spend any time in the sun; for example those who works on night shifts, or those who live at rainy places. Now, light, especially in the form of sunlight is instrumental in the secretion of a number of chemicals in the body that have the capability of preventing SAD. Serotonin is a brain chemical that makes an individual feel good about oneself and everything surrounding him/her. And exposure to sunlight helps the body to maintain a higher level of this chemical. It has been found that when serotonin level is less due to limited sunlight exposure, symptoms of SAD may start appearing.
This is the reason, why doctors often recommend light therapy to the patients diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder. These light boxes often produce artificial sunlight and stimulates the body to produce Vitamin D. Recently some Vitamin D supplements are also getting administered because they have been found to significantly increase the serotonin levels.
But in this respect, there is one thing that is always considered and that is the dosage. One body type differs from another, and therefore the dosage also differs. However, a thin guideline is provided by the notes on the back of the bottles of the vitamin supplements. They say that for a normal person, the dosage should be 200 to 400 IU of Vitamin D each day; however, if you are above 70 then the dosage should increase to 600 IU.
In the year 1998, some Australian researchers declared that during the late winter months, some other form of Vitamin D like the cholecalciferol could be taken in higher doses like 800 IU to enhance your mood. To testify to this observation, some German scientists more recently have gathered that individuals suffering from SAD have a somewhat lower blood level of 25(OH) D than that of the usual level. This is the reason, may be because of which doctors are now prescribing up to 1000 to 4000 IU per day to SAD patients as an additional help to cope up with the symptoms of the seasonal affective disorder. Although, it is said that no adverse affects will be there even with the higher dosage of the vitamins, yet it would be better if you could consult your physician so that he can guide you to take dosage of Vitamin D that will suit you properly.
But it is a personal opinion that the best source of Vitamin D could be the foods that you take in. Vitamin D supplements will be absorbed naturally by your body if you take it with a good meal, especially if it is constituent of Vitamin D. Natural food sources of Vitamin D are pink salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, raw broccoli, orange juice, milk, artichokes, vitamin D fortified cereals, or raw kale. All these have high levels of Vitamin D in each of their serving and help your body to absorb the Vitamin D supplements if you are taking any.
But in spite of taking Vitamin D, there is no substitute to spending some quality time in the sun especially during the winter months. This is important in two ways; first you get natural sunlight to help in maintaining a correct serotonin level even in the most dark and dull wintry days and to add to that no matter how small activity you perform, it will help in the improvement of the SAD symptoms. Some times it is said that vitamin D levels are also adversely affected when people do not get sufficient UV rays on their skin. So, any outdoor trips will be beneficial for you. However, remember to protect your skin through the application of sunscreens as even during the winter months when it is not much sunny outside, you can get subjected to harmful UV rays of the sun and develop sunburns.
So, make sure to take a walk in the park, perform ice skating or skiing at the nearby park or ponds, or even sit in your front porch for a few minutes as they are much more effective form of taking Vitamin D and when combined with Vitamin D supplements are foods rich in this Vitamin, the SAD symptoms are significantly suppressed.
Vitamin B6, B12 and SAD
Vitamin B6 and B12 were found to encourage the production of healthy blood cells which help and regulate the nervous system of an individual. Mood and brain functioning are much affected by these Vitamins. In fact, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12 were found to also produce dopamine. Dopamine is one of the neurotransmitters of the body that increases the feeling of pleasure among individuals. So, if these vitamins are not adequately present in your body, there are ample chances that you will feel lethargic, anxious, or suffer from lack of concentration which are the common symptoms of SAD. Furthermore, in the production of serotonin, Vitamin B6 plays an important role. Therefore, if any individual, particularly if any elder is found affected with Seasonal Affective Disorder, a doctor should consider whether he is suffering from Vitamin B6 deficiency or not.
As natural food sources of Vitamin B6, fish, chicken, meat, milk, cheese, eggs and fortified cereals are prominent names. However, if you are a vegetarian, you can opt for supplements.
Other Vitamins and SAD
There are several other Vitamins which are directly linked with the Seasonal Affective Disorder. They are as follows:
Vitamin B9: Vitamin B6 or folic acid converts food into energy. If you are suffering from SAD, take 400 mcg or 0.4 mg of this vitamin. According to studies conducted in the University Of Maryland Medical Center, “15 to 38 percent of depression sufferers have low levels of folic acid.” You can either take in the form of pills or you can try consuming foods like spinach, orange juice, dark leafy greens, kidney beans, mung beans, white beans, soybeans, lima beans, salmon, avocado and whole grains and fortified cereals which are rich in this vitamin.
Magnesium: SAD patients should take 160 to 500 mg of magnesium at night before going to bed. It balances the blood sugar level. The research study that is published in the website of the National Center for Biotechnology Information states that individuals suffering from depressions have magnesium deficiency. Nuts, dark chocolates, oatmeal or whole grain breads are foods that contain magnesium.
L-tyrosine: This amino acid not only affects the neurotransmitters to regulate emotions, but also help in the improvement of SAD symptoms like anxiety, stress or frustration. For per 2.2 pounds of your body weight, you can take 100 mg of L-tyrosine. And for natural intake, meats, fish, dairy products, oats, and whole grains can be consumed.
Vitamin B3: This Vitamin along with amino acid tryptophan produces serotonin; the neurotransmitter that directly affects depression. You can find dietary or supplemental niacin that act as your mood booster. However, you can also partake to salmon, mackerel, chicken, dried peas, beans, whole grains or dried fortified cereals if want to naturally consume this Vitamin.
Vitamin C: Use this vitamin with bioflavonoids with Vitamin C supplements and reduce your anxiety and uplift your energy levels. These bioflavonoids are present in all types of fruits and especially citrus foods and are anti-inflammatories in character that will put a check to the damage caused by free radicals. They also prevent the oxidation of Vitamin C, so that its absorption is better and more effective.
This is almost everything that you were required to know about Vitamins and SAD. As you have seen, that there are a couple of vitamins that are directly associated in the cure of the SAD symptoms. You can either partake to them naturally or consume them in their supplemented form. Whatever, you do, do not forget to consult your doctor. Because only he knows what vitamins you are lacking and what dosage will be beneficial for you. So, if you are experiencing mild symptoms Seasonal Affective Disorders, delay not. Rush to your physician and let the vitamins take care of the rest. And don’t forget to get some sunlight too!