November 7, 2008
I think I have early onset seasonal affective disorder.
We changed our clocks back from Daylight Savings Time last week and it’s just after four o’clock and it’s getting dark outside.
The only time I’ve ever appreciated this transition to shorter days was when my kids were babies.
I was the Queen of Beddie-Bye. Back then, I actually looked forward to the early arrival of evening. I remember sometimes having my three babes tucked into bed for the night by 5:10pm, the world record for overwhelmed moms.
But things change.
Now that they are teens, my “babies” get a second wind at about 9:45pm and let’s just say I really don’t need an extra hour of darkness anymore.
Speaking of darkness, we now have a very real health related darkness problem. I first heard of this issue at, where else, but brilliant doctors on staff at
Since the advent of sunscreen usage many people (and Canyon Ranch estimates the number of people to be nearly 70%of Americans!) have developed a Vitamin D deficiency.
And it gets worse.
I hate to break this to you
but there is a conclusive, growing body of evidence about the potential link between lack of Vitamin D and risk for certain cancers and diseases.
Current research has implicated vitamin D deficiency as a major factor in the pathology of at least seventeen varieties of cancer (!!)as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects, periodontal disease, and more!
This is especially a concern for people with black skin or people over the age of seventy, neither of which convert vitamin D effectively.
The Canadian Cancer Society has gone so far as to issue a recommendation that Canadians consider adding a vitamin D supplement when Daylight Savings Time ends (and it is darker for a greater portion of the day).
You get your vitamin D from one of three sources: sunlight, fortified dietary foods, especially dairy products, some cereals and oily fish like salmon.
The radiation that converts vitamin D in the skin is the same wavelength that causes sunburn, so those of you who are religious about application of sunscreen (even if it’s just 15 SPF!) can drastically impair vitamin D production. It just ain’t fair!
If you live in the northern latitudes, there is not enough radiation to convert vitamin D into a usable nutrient, especially during the winter.
What to do?
Check with your doctor first,
but if you typically avoid sunlight exposure, research indicates a necessity to supplement with at least 5,000 units (IU) of vitamin D daily. The US government recommends only 200 IU a day! It is my humble opinion that this is an outdated guideline that was based on Vtiamin D not being a water-soluable vitamin that could possibly build up in the body to toxic levels. This was prior to the sunscreen era. Tell me now that federal nutritional guidelines aren’t in need of an overhaul.
To give you an idea of how much 5000 IUs of vitamin D is, it is equal to 50 glasses of milk. With a multivitamin, that’s more than 10 tablets.
The skin produces approximately 20,000 IUs of vitamin D from twenty to thirty minutes of summer sun exposure on your forearms and face—100 times more than the US government’s recommendation of 200 IU per day!
What to do? Get your vitamin D level checked at your next physical.
It’s a $20 to $30 test. Just don’t load up on vitamin D because it still can be toxic at mega doses if you are not deficient.
I’m moving to Brazil.
If it weren’t enough incentive that I’ve just become obsessed with getting everyone I know who has an ache or pain (or seasonal affective disorder) to try the Brazilian Acai berry juice, I do think I could benefit from the sunlight.
And now that I have conclusive medical science to back me up, does anyone know if the Brazilian Rain Forest has good beaches?