Maintaining vitamin D levels key to battling seasonal depression

SASKATOON – The first full day of winter can be a difficult time for anyone feeling the negative impacts of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It’s the time of year the northern hemisphere receives the least amount of daylight.

One of the most common treatments is light therapy. Lamps can be used for about an hour per day to mimic the type of light a person receives on a normal, sunny day, according to Jesse Lee, salesperson at Unique Lighting.

READ MORE: Examining the science behind the winter blues

“The psychological aspect is people like to get sunshine, and it just makes them happier,” Lee said.

Tabletop units range from about $70 to around $200.

SAD can be confused with stress or loneliness felt during the holidays, but experts suggest the feeling of sadness is partially due to a lack of vitamin D, which is produced by natural light.

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“Vitamin D is what is called the sunshine hormone [or the] sunshine vitamin,” said Dr. Venkat Gopalakrishnan, department head of pharmacology at the University of Saskatchewan.

People can also boost their vitamin D levels by drinking milk, eating fatty fish or taking a supplement, he said.

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A lack of vitamin D can lead to conditions like osteoporosis in women. For men, heart disease is the most common ailment, Gopalakrishnan said.

One study from Harvard University found that a vitamin D deficiency can as much as double the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke.

Watch below: With less daylight hours, Brooke from Food to Fit looks at ways people can get enough vitamin D and why it is important for good health.

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