Let the Sun Shine

Monday, February 6, 2012

Photo courtesy of: http://economicasunp.edu.ar

Keeping away the winter blues is hard for those who lives in high latitudes or places with lots snow and clouds (like Ithaca, NY or as I am finding out, London). Exercise can help you relieve stress and increase energy levels, but when you go to work and it is dark out, and when you come home it is still dark out, motivation can be lacking.

Sunshine is important as is provides you with vitamin D when absorbed by the skin
In this Guardian article,
Anna Robinson talks about taking supplements during the dark dreary winter months as more health concerns are being linked to Vitamin D deficiency. "Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with many diseases and health conditions including cancer, obesity, cardiovascular disease, depression, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure." Wondering where you can get more vitamin D? Next time mom asks you what you want to drink with dinner, go for milk or select from the list provided by the NIH.

Seasonal Affect Disorder
is another problem for people who lack sunshine, particularly in winter. According to the SADA's website, common symptoms for SAD include:

* Depression
* Sleep Problems
* Lethargy
* Over Eating
* Loss of Concentration
* Social Problems
* Anxiety
* Loss of Libido
* Mood Changes

Light therapy (not in a tanning bed, but with special UV bulbs) and anti-depressant drugs are both ways to treat SAD until summer returns. If those aren't for you, take a break at work when the sun is out and go for a short walk. A short trip to a sunnier climate might do the trick too. Find a support network within your social circle to let them know how you are feeling. Maybe they are having a similar experience. Although exercise might not relieve all of your symptoms, try getting your heart rate up for 30 minutes (in at least 10 minute bouts if you don't have a solid half hour to spare). The release of endorphins will be a temporary mood lifter.

One more thing- too much sun can damage the skin so wear sunscreen. You might be asking does sunscreen interfere with vitamin D absorption? It is unclear according to this NYT article. As the article states, must people put on sunscreen wrong (read the directions on the bottle). Typically sunscreen should be applied 30-60 minutes before you go out in the sun. If you are one of those who dabs in on once the blanket and umbrella are set up on the beach, you will absorb some vitamin D before the sunscreen starts working. Remember that noon-2pm is when the sun is at its strongest and you can be exposed to sun rays even when it is cloudy.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your feedback!