As Canadians, we tend to be more susceptible to the effects of the “winter blues”. The simple reason for this is the lack of sunshine during the winter months. The sun plays an important role in our daily lives, not only nourishing plants but also keeping us happy and healthy. Have you ever noticed your mood becomes lower during an extended period of dark, cloudy, dreary days? Sometimes the effects of the winter blues can interfere with our ability to deal with life’s challenges on a daily basis. When you notice this trend happening, it’s time for you to do something about it.
While there are plenty of prescription medications that your doctor can prescribe, you may want to first try natural supplements and vitamins. Many times, the blue feeling we experience is due to a lack of vitamin D. There are many brands of vitamin D3 available. The recommended daily dosage for adults is 600 IU. Sleep loss can be a symptom of the winter blues. Often your doctor will recommend this vitamin as an effect way to help you sleep again.
Another vitamin that will help with the winter blues is folic acid and B6. If you are taking anti- depressants, it’s important to consult your doctor first as these B vitamins can interact with your prescriptions. Folic acid will help to alleviate feelings of fatigue which are generally experienced by those who suffer from the winter blues. Vitamin B6 and B12 will also help with symptoms. B12 can be found in meats and eggs. It is not present in any fruits or vegetables. This means that vegetarians and vegans will need to supplement their diet with B12 vitamins. The B vitamins are key to brain functions, therefore getting enough of these vitamins can improve your mood.
Some natural supplements can also help someone suffering from the winter blues.
Fish oil plays a role in brain function and mood.
Melatonin can assist with getting circadian rhythms (your sleep cycle) back on track which will help you have a more restful sleep.
St John’s Wort:
This supplement when combined with phototherapy has been shown to be effective in treating the symptoms of the winter blues. (aka season affective disorder)
Consult with your Doctor
When taking any vitamins or supplements; even natural supplements, always consult your doctor. This will ensure that there are no conflicts with any medications or existing conditions you may have.
In addition to vitamins and supplements, another way to combat the winter blues is to maintain a healthy diet and regular exercise. Daily exercise helps your body to produce the “feel good” hormones of serotonin and dopamine. These hormones regulate mood and brain function. A healthy diet of lean proteins including fish such as salmon and sardines, eggs, fruit, vegetables and whole grains will also help you to feel good during the dreary days of winter. Remember to avoid sugar and limit your consumption of carbohydrates from white flour and pasta.
With some planning and help from your doctor and pharmacist, you can enjoy a healthy lifestyle during the long winter months.