Winter Essentials to avoid SADness
Updated: Nov 3, 2020
It's vital to ensure a sound mind and a warm soul for the winter months especially to combat SADness (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
Daily intake of two essential nutrients should be evaluated to best support the health of our minds: vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.
It is true that the body can synthesize vitamin D from the sunlight but our meteorological season, outdoor activity, skin color, age, and our location on the map needs to be considered before we rely solely on the sun to supply.
Winter is not a dependable season to count on the sun to meet our daily needs. The sun is simply not at the right angle in relation to Earth to supply adequate UV light for vitamin D synthesis.
In the summer months when UV light is dependably high we can make it a point to be outside in the sun midday between 11am and 2pm with adequate skin exposed (uncovered arms and legs, tank top and shorts are recommended) and no sunscreen (a skin protection factor (SPF) of 8 diminishes vitamin D synthesis by 95%). When this scenario becomes our reality three times per week, in a short period of time around 15-30 minutes, the sun will on average supply our needs for vitamin D. Should you have a darker skin tone, longer time will be required in the sun; 30 minutes to 3 hours.
Evaluating our attire, normally in the spring, fall, and winter months the vast majority of our body is completely covered with clothing not supporting synthesis regardless of UV exposure. Elderly, also have diminished ability to adequately synthesize vitamin D and often wear protective clothing to prevent skin damage and cancer.
Those who reside far from the equator, as I do, synthesize less vitamin D compared with those living close to the equator. In locations far from 0 degrees latitude, our winters are longer with diminished UV light, which requires more protective clothing from the cold. In the summer months we must remain outside for longer periods of time to absorb the needed UV light to synthesize essential vitamin D.
Deficiency of vitamin D is common and linked to depression and a weakened immune system. In the winter months our population sees an increase in SADness, frequently labeled Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or seasonal depression and an increase in illness such as the flu.
Cod liver oil provides an impressive amount of vitamin D per tablespoon, 1,344 IU (international units) but who swallows this stuff?! My Pappa Alan is the only person I've ever known to consume cod liver oil and it was required by his mother at a young age! Cecilia clearly knew the importance of cod liver oil!
-3.5 ounces of cooked Atlantic salmon provides 526 IU
-3.5 ounces of canned tuna fish provides 268 IU
-3.5 ounce of cooked Atlantic herring provides 216 IU
-1 can, 3.8 ounces of sardines provides 177 IU
-3.5 ounces of mushrooms treated with UV light provides 130-450 IU
Fun Fact: if you're lucky enough to find the same quantity of wild edible mushrooms you could get upwards of 2,300 IU
-1 cup of orange juice fortified with vitamin D (check product labels, as the amount of added vitamin D varies) provides 100 IU
-1 egg (vitamin D is found in yolk) provides 57 IU
Fun Fact: When chickens are fed the same food, those that roam outside (pasture raised) produce eggs that contain 3 to 4 times more vitamin D! If chickens are fed vitamin D fortified food their yolk levels will provide even more IU.
Aside from the tablespoon of cod liver oil and the 3.5 ounce of wild edible mushrooms the numbers listed above would suggest supplementation to be key. Especially, during the colder months where our access to UV light is diminished and our layers of clothing increase.
We should strive to not fall below a daily intake of I,000 IU of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), which is two times more powerful than D2 (ergocalciferol). We should also consider the safe upper limit set by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) being 4,000 IU daily. Mega dosing above the set upper limit should not be done without consulting with your health care professionals.
Being that I hate cod liver oil and don't have access to wild edible mushrooms regularly I choose to supplement. My multivitamin provides 800 IU daily per serving, which is 100% of the daily recommended intake value. When I am fully clothed and especially during the winter months, I also supplement with an additional 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 from Bluebonnet. This supplement is provided in the form of an orange and lemon liquid drop. The supplement contains no GMOs (genetically modified organisms), it's kosher and gluten free, also free of milk, egg, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, soybean, yeast, rice, sodium, sugar, and is considered to be vegetarian friendly. Bluebonnet also has another supplement providing 1,000 IU per drop compared with my 2,000 IU per drop. Next purchase I will probably go with the 1,000 IU supplement so I can better dose my daily needs but it's going to be a hot minute as my supplement provides 999 servings per container and is priced $18.86 at Raisin Rack! That is 0.02 cents per serving making it a no brainer in my opinion to combat SADness, depression, and illness.
Sidebar: my electrician is super sweet and provides me with wild morels around my birthday! I look forward to experimenting with mushroom foraging myself this year, with my electrician and with J Michael!
Next up omega-3 fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which have a profound impact on the brain especially in the areas of mild memory loss and depression. Most individuals don't consume the recommended amount of fatty fish per week and thus find themselves deficient in omegas.
The body can synthesize EPA and DHA from food sources, such as, walnuts, flaxseed oil, and canola oil but it's not very efficient at the process making supplementation important for those not consuming the recommended amounts of fatty fish weekly.
When I'm not meeting intake recommendations or when I'm actively choosing more vegan based meals, I supplement with Wiley's Finest, Wild Alaskan Fish Oil, Peak Omega-3 Liquid. This liquid is a nice natural lemon flavor and I normally don't even like lemons! Some dislike fish oil supplements as they complain of burping up the taste of fish all day. I can say that if and when I burp, I taste a nice mild lemon flavor, which I find welcoming and refreshing! jajajajaj (laughing in Spanish)!
It is very important to carefully read supplement labels to evaluate dosing and quality.
I chose this supplement based on its high levels of EPA compared with DHA as research supports this ratio to have a more profound impact on depressive symptoms. When supplementing I take half the recommended amount daily, consuming 1/2 teaspoon with food to provide my being with 650 mg of EPA, 425 mg of DHA, and 125 mg of other omega-3 fatty acids. Totaling 1,075 mg of EPA and DHA combined.
Taking a daily dose of 1,000-2,000 mg of fish oil is a good starting point, which is well under the daily recommended upper limit set by the USDA (US Food and Drug Administration) at 3,000 mg and by the European Food Safety Authority at 5,000 mg.
This supplement provides concentrated Wild Alaska Pollock Fish Oil, from US waters, that has met the MSC's global standard for sustainability to help protect fish stocks for future generations.
Every batch of Wiley's Finest is manufactured to the highest US and international quality standards. Through molecular distillation and advanced purification techniques their fish oil tests safe from harmful contaminants being mercury, PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls), radiation, and additional heavy metals (lead, cadmium, and arsenic).
Bonus factor for me, I love to support local companies as much as humanly possible and this company is located in the heart of the Midwest, woot woot, representing from the lovely Coshocton, Ohio!
Being that I consume 1/2 the recommended amount daily, my supplement lasts me two months rather than one, making my investment around $17 per month when purchased from Raisin Rack!
Should you follow a strict vegan lifestyle, you may consider Nordic Naturals Algea Omega and two soft gels per day but you will dramatically decrease your intake of EPA to 195 mg and DHA to 390 mg to maintain this level of dedication to veganism. You will also receive an additional 130 mg from other omegas.
To ensure a warm soul during the winter months I like to start my days with a cup of tea!
The modern world recognizes six groupings of tea: green, yellow, white, oolong, black, and dark/Pu'er. Research indicates that four to five thousand years ago teas were harvested and cooked into nourishing soups and vitality tonics as folk medicine.
I am very sensitive to caffeine content and dislike the sensation of having the jitters. As a result I strictly stick to white tea. Elegant and naturally sweet, white teas are only picked during the first week in spring, to be air dried, when the leaves contain the energy and sugars of new growth. White tea leaves are coated with trichomes, known in Chinese as bai hao ("white hair"), which provides a soft mouth feel and a cotton candy-like sweetness when brewed. Trichomes are silvery-white in appearance and this is why they are called "white tea."
White tea began in the eastern Chinese province of Fujian, in a town called Zhengh. The region provides tea with moderate caffeine content, high amounts of amino acids, and mild tannins. This combination results in energy that is gently stimulating and feels natural at any time of the day. White teas are popular as a "scholar's tea" having a history of promoting wakefulness and focus.
My all-time favorite tea is by Rishi Tea & Botanicals, they draw immense inspiration from the ancient Sanskrit origin of Rishi as one who is a sage or seeker of truth!
Peach Blossom - a fruitful introduction to the category of white tea offering a sweet flavor that is both welcoming and warming in the winter months! My being fills with excitement each morning at the thought of getting out of bed to brew my delicious tea!
Ingredients: organic white tea, organic quince, natural peach flavor, organic peaches, essential orange and tangerine oils.
I purchase my tea direct from Rishi but have seen a selection of their teas available at Whole Foods in smaller more expensive quantities. If you have a business, Rishi offers nice wholesale pricing.
*Would you evaluate your mind to be sound during the winter months?
*Are you probably deficient in essential nutrients, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA)? Could supplementation help?
*Is your soul warm when it's the coldest outside? Could Peach Blossom, white tea, from Rishi Tea & Botanicals help you feel cozy from the inside out?
May the force be with you as you holistically combat SADness!
Wishing you a lifetime of winters filled with bliss!
Peace & Love!