Winter has shown very little signs of relenting in the Northeast. In Philadelphia alone, a 130-year-old record was shattered when, for the first time in history, the city had four different 6+-inch snowfalls in one season. However, it’s the bitter cold that has driven many of us into hibernation and some of us into having the winter blues.
This winter we’ve experienced below freezing temperatures for days at a time, high wind gusts, and overcast days. As a New Jersey resident, I expect snow and cold, however, when it comes on without any 40-50 degree breaks, it can be extremely depressing. Well, since we’re, yet again, in a bitter cold blast as the reporters like to say, I wanted to share my favorite “Winter Pick Me Upper” that will leave you feeling a little brighter. After all, spring is just around the corner!
Vitamin D – The Winter Blues Cure?
One of the best supplements to add to your routine, especially in the winter, is vitamin D. Our body needs the sun to produce vitamin D, however depending on where you live, the recommended levels can be almost impossible to achieve with the winter sun. The hormone is made in the skin after being exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet light. Even in the summer, when the sun is out the longest and at its peak, many people still don’t get enough vitamin D because many sunscreens block the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Don’t get me wrong, wearing sunscreen is an absolute must in the sun, however going out during off peak hours for just 30 minutes (morning or evening) without sunscreen can help you rev up your vitamin D levels.
So I’ve told you how difficult it is to get the recommended levels of vitamin D in your system, but why would you care and what does this have to do with staying happy in the winter? Well, I’m happy you asked! vitamin D has been shown to increase brain health and emotional well-being. According to Dr. Weil, “Receptors for vitamin D occur throughout the brain, and it appears to play an important role in the development and function of that organ, including the activity of neurotransmitters that affect mood.” Not surprisingly, low levels of vitamin D are related to seasonal affective disorder.
Not only can vitamin D elevate your mood, but it can also help you combat the flu and the common cold. Countless studies have continued to find the extraordinary benefits that vitamin D provides. One study found that vitamin D tempers the damaging inflammatory response of some white blood cells, while it also boosts immune cells’ production of microbe-fighting proteins.
These are just two of the many ways vitamin D supports your body and immune system.
Adding Vitamin D to Your Diet
Now the next question becomes, since it’s almost impossible to get naturally, how do you achieve the proper levels of vitamin D in your diet? And there’s only one answer – supplements. Now, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to get your daily dose by eating foods rich in vitamin D. Some great options are adding fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, fortified milk or juice, egg yolks, liver, and my favorite, cod liver oil to your daily diet. However, the best way to make sure you’re getting your vitamin D levels is by adding a supplement to your diet. I take about 2,000 IU per day (from a combination of my multivitamin, vitamin D, and cod liver oil).
Always be sure to check with your doctor before adding a supplement to your diet, an excessive intake of vitamin D (what excessive actually defines is different according to many doctors some put it at 4,000 IU while others are well above 10,000 IU) can cause problems such as kidney damage. You can also contact me for more information and guidance.
If you’re feeling blue this winter, try adding some vitamin D to your diet. It will leave you feeling happier and healthier, just in time for spring’s arrival!