SAD? It may be time for more Vitamin D

If you've been feeling a little sluggish or down-in-the-dumps lately, you might blame the calendar.

Sunny days are slowly giving way to more clouds, rain and cooler temperatures. Before we know it in northern Indiana and southern Michigan we'll be knee deep in that lake effect snow we are used to.

While the thought of heavy coats, boots and shoveling is a pain for some, for others that change and weather can lead to a condition known as SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Doctor Jesse Hsieh, a family practitioner with the South Bend Clinic, says this is the time of year people start to notice mood changes.

"Starting in September the sun starts to go down and there is less sunlight and we know there is a statistical correlation between less sun and more trouble with depression," says Hsieh.

He adds, "People get in their car, they hit their garage door opener, back out and they pull into a parking garage. And so we are starting to realize that may have a fairly detrimental affect on our health because we don't get enough sun."

Dr. Hsieh says many people immediately reach for a Vitamin D supplement to get their sunshine fix, but reminds us we can also find Vitamin D in foods like salmon, mackerel, tuna, orange juice and milk.

Still, our latitude puts us at risk for a deficiency so if you're feeling sluggish or depressed, Dr. Hsieh says it might be a good idea to have your doctor check your Vitamin D level.

"I don't think it's controversial that we need Vitamin D. There are at least 200 genes in your body that we realize will not turn on unless you have Vitamin D in your system and those genes control a lot of things. So we know you need it," says Dr. Hsieh.

Experts believe it's so important, that one of Dr. Hsieh's patients has been asked by internationally renown Harvard University reseachers to take part in a five-year study that might finally determine how much Vitamin D we need on an individual basis.

Dr. Hsieh says he will recommend or prescribe Vitamin D for his patients who need it, but says the best way to beat the doldrums of fall and winter, for most people, is getting outdoors.

"All you really need per day is anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes. What I am asking my patients to do is just get outside more and be more conscientious of getting out for a walk. The bottom line is we are starting to realize that we need the sun to live," he says.

Dr. Hsieh adds the recommendation by most doctors if you think you need a supplement is between 1000 and 4000 I.U's of Vitamin D a day, during the fall or winter months, especially in areas like ours where it is often difficult to expose your face, arms and legs to 15 minutes of sunshine a day.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Harvard study, and whether you might qualify, you can go to this link for more information:

Harvard Medical School Vitamin D Study
(800) 388-3963
email: vitalstudy@rics.bwh.harvard.edu
http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/time-for-more-vitamin-d.html


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