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Preventing the Winter Blues: The Importance of Vitamin D

There’s something about the autumn and winter months that can leave many people feeling run down and depressed. And it’s not just the cold, wet weather! The reduced exposure to sunlight during the winter months, and the resulting lack of vitamin D, can have a big impact on our mood. Although these symptoms may not seem like much to worry about initially, those suffering from seasonal affective disorder can feel trapped inside their homes during the long winter months and may find they have difficulty functioning normally at work or school due to their lack of energy and motivation. In this blog, we’ll explain a few ways we can help combat the winter blues!


What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder, or SADS, is a form of depression that is more likely to manifest during the winter months. Reduced daylight hours during certain seasons lead to shorter periods of natural sunlight and sometimes an increased risk for vitamin D deficiency. Research shows that people with lower levels of vitamin D may be more susceptible to developing the symptoms of SAD.
The signs and symptoms of SAD include low energy, weight gain, sleep changes, social withdrawal, irritability, fatigue, and an increase in depressive symptoms. These can lead to a depression diagnosis if they occur for a significant amount of time.

What causes SAD?

It’s easy to think that seasonal affective disorder only affects people during the winter months. But that’s not true!
Any situation that prevents you from regularly spending time in natural sunlight - at any time of year - may increase your chances of developing SAD. For example, where you live (the typical weather and UV index), spending a lot of time indoors, or regularly working night shifts.

But it's not just about spending time outdoors…

We don’t get vitamin D directly from the sun, it's synthesised by our bodies when our skin is exposed to sunlight over a UV index of 3. In the UK climate, we can get the vitamin D we need between April and September (about 10 minutes of sun exposure each day can be enough).
In the autumn and wintertime, the UV index is lower, and the sun’s rays aren’t strong enough to help us produce our own vitamin D. So we have to look to a supplement or alter our diets to compensate.

So what can we do to prevent SAD?

Below are a few tips to help keep your vitamin D levels steady during the wintertime:
Take a vitamin D supplement – there are plenty to choose from, but we recommend choosing a supplement that also contains
vitamin K2
. Vitamin D increases the levels of calcium in your body and vitamin K works to store the calcium in your bones and teeth. Taking them together ensures your calcium levels aren’t altered.
Keep going outside – try to spend around 15 mins a day outdoors if the weather permits it! But remember to protect your skin if you are planning to spend a long time outdoors.
Source vitamin D from your diet - There aren’t many foods that contain vitamin D, but introducing more oily fish, mushrooms, liver, and egg yolks may help. Many cereals and spreads are fortified with vitamin D but, if you don’t usually eat these foods, adding a supplement to your regime might be a simpler option.
Let light in – If you have to spend a lot of time indoors, for any reason, try to ensure you are close to a window and let the natural light flood in!
If you have any questions about vitamin D or Seasonal Affective Disorder, please let us know by emailing