Is this time of year like pushing a boulder up a mountain? Dark mornings and winter gloom and you’d rather hibernate?

If you feel so low in winter that you really can’t get out from under the duvet every morning, then you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Symptoms include feeling miserable, drained, lethargic and glass half-empty, stoking up on carbohydrates and having no inclination to be sociable as soon as the shorter, darker days start. All the pleasure goes out of the things you usually enjoy, and however much sleep you get it’s not enough.

Low on the ‘sunshine vitamin’?

SAD is strongly linked to light levels: in Finland there are almost 10 times more sufferers than here.

But even in this country the annual National Diet and Nutrition Survey shows that the majority of people are shockingly low on Vitamin D, a nutrient that comes predominantly not from our diet (you’d have to eat 2-4 servings of wild salmon every day to get enough) – but from the sun. Through winter there just aren’t enough sun hours in the day in this country for most of us to have optimal levels of Vitamin D.

  • 90% of the UK population have below the ‘sufficient’ levels recommended
  • 75% of young adults, the elderly and British Asian children are deficient
  • Up to 20% have dangerously low levels

Some groups of people are particularly at risk of Vitamin D deficiency:

  • the elderly
  • the obese
  • under-5s
  • pregnant women

The moral is: get outside as much as possible at this time of year, and stock up on Vitamin D3 if you think you’re below par.

ON SALE AT THE HUB: Bring some of the sunshine vitamin into your winter months with Nutri’s Vitamin D3 Drops (for low deficiency), £11.50, or Vitamin D3 High Strength Tablets (for severe deficiency), £9.50. 

Lighten the load

There’s a direct connection from the retina of the eye to the pineal, the endocrine gland that produces melatonin, the hormone that tells us when to ‘shut down’ for sleep and when to wake. So SAD symptoms can often be significantly relieved by literally ‘seeing the light’. Light therapy – where you’re exposed to bright light to mimic the amount we receive on a sunny day – can really help lift your spirits. Google ‘SAD lamp’ and you’ll find a good selection.


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