Ah, that time of year when people are susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder aka SAD. The shorter and gloomier days make you want to hibernate. It is a mood disorder that occurs each time of year when the amount of sunlight is lessened. But, is it just the sun to blame? The answer depends on your own body which is why I always recommend that my patients test and don’t guess when it comes to nutrient load in their bodies.
Let’s start off with the importance of sunlight. It’s bright and cheery, so of course we feel our mood boosted with it shining and penetrating our skin. Plus, by exposure to it, we can absorb Vitamin D3 which plays a huge role in elevating our mood, supporting our hormone levels, bone support, cardiovascular health, protecting our tissues, autoimmune defense, and gut lining support to allow proper absorption of vitamins and minerals. It is a fat soluble vitamin, and can become toxic when too high. You want to make sure that your Vitamin D3 levels fall within the optimal range on labwork which is between 60 – 80 ng/mL. Make sure to take your Vitamin D3 supplement with food for maximum absorption and Vitamin K2 can help its absorption to your bones. Vitamin K is fat soluble, so again it’s important to test.
Our neurotransmitters require nutrients as well. Amino acids such as tryptophan which is a pre-cursor to serotonin and tyrosine which supports dopamine. Glutamine is an amino acid to support your gut lining, so you can properly absorb nutrients plus it is a pre-cursor to GABA which is relaxing. B vitamins support methylation, brain health, energy levels plus much more. Vitamin A and Zinc support the gut lining as well. Vitamin C is an antioxidant plus a co-factor for dopamine. Magnesium supports serotonin. There are a few forms so make sure you’re taking the right one for your needs. Iodine supports the thyroid plus it ensures that there is enough T3 and T4 to activate neurotransmitters. Low levels can cause depression and trouble concentrating.
There are many other labs to consider for mood support. Blood sugar dysregulation can cause issues, so make sure you have a fasting blood glucose and HemoglobinA1c in range. Anemia can affect energy and mood so make sure ferritin (iron storage), iron and B12 are at optimal levels. Tons of inflammatory markers because inflammation is systemic, so having a variety of markers helps. Thyroid panel is key as it is such an important gland when it comes to mood support. 24 hour cortisol panel helps to show your circadian rhythm. If you need stress relief, that could be helpful in identifying proper adaptogenic herbs to help and when during the day or night to take them. Cholesterol panel when out of range can lay the foundation for lifestyle changes and may be the proof to get someone on the healthy track this year.
So much can be done with diet and lifestyle changes. Get your new year on track by boosting your mood this winter by simply identifying what nutrients you may need. SAD doesn’t have to consume your winter season – get help today!