At this time of year, one in eight of us can suffer from winter blues and one in 50 of us suffer from SAD through lack of sunlight.
Symptoms of SAD include fatigue and depression.
It’s the sunlight that tells your brain to produce serotonin, which is needed to boost our mood and energy. Lack of it as autumn turns to winter causes an increase in the production of melatonin (which makes us sleepy) and a reduction in serotonin is what can cause depression.
One of the most obvious ways to treat SAD is to get outside in the daylight for at least 20 minutes a day but you can also invest in a lightbox. Light therapy is the most effective way of decreasing the symptoms. Also, it is believed that eating foods rich in an amino acid called tryptophan increase the amount of serotonin in the brain.
Australian research found that taking vitamin D supplements for only five days in late winter improved the mood of people with SAD. It can also prevent osteoporosis, support immunity and regulate weight. Of course, the best way to get Vitamin D is through the effects of sunlight on bare skin. Amazingly they say that Vitamin D lasts for 60 days in the body so if you’ve been away for your annual holiday in the summer, it will mean your levels should be fine until November.
Other sources of Vitamin D can be found in oily fish and eggs, cheese and poultry.
Research also suggests that eating carb-rich foods helps the brain take up tryptophan. You can also find supplements and The Food Agency recommends taking 10mcg a day.
Walking for health encourages people to get active by arranging health walks up and down the Country for all levels of fitness.
Walking will improve stamina, help keep weight gain at bay and reduce your risk of major diseases. 20 minutes of walking can burn up 100 calories.
It is also beneficial for SAD sufferers who feel low and lethargic due to the lack of sunlight in the winter months.
Walking for life was set up in 2000 and now has over 600 local schemes with 66,000 regular walkers nationwide. Over one Christmas period, walking for life registered their 100,000th walker onto their database.