Download this article as a PDF: How To Avoid SAD This Winter With Simple Nutrition.
The “winter blues” has been labeled as a seasonal affective disorder, or SAD (SAD also stands for Standard American Diet – finally, truth in labeling). The deficiency of vitamin D is thought to be the cause of SAD. Vitamin D is so important that our bodies developed a way to synthesize it out of pure sunlight. The ultraviolet rays of the sun convert skin oil to vitamin D. Sounds like magic, doesn’t it? Well, it is at least indicative of how essential this vitamin must be.
The Dangers Of Vitamin D Deficiency
SAD has been on the rise, not only because we have become sun phobic, slathering ourselves with chemical sunscreens that actually have been shown to cause more skin cancer than the sun, but we also avoid eating all the good sources of Vitamin D, namely, good fats. (By the way, if you really are sun sensitive, please use mineral-only sunscreens and avoid the toxic effects of the chemical screens.)
SAD is just the tip of the iceberg. Vitamin D deficiency causes muscle weakness, osteoporosis, breast and colorectal cancer, diabetes types I and II, heart and cardiovascular disease, and more.
Synthetic Vitamins Hurt, Not Help
No problem, you say – let’s run out and buy a whole bunch of this vitamin D stuff and we’ll be OK? Well, not exactly. Just as processed foods are insufficient and actually damaging because our bodies don’t know what to do with all the fake stuff, synthetic vitamin D is also insufficient and, like fake food, can damage the delicate orchestral synergy of our metabolisms.
For example, among its many functions, vitamin D picks up calcium from the gut and puts it into the blood. Essential fatty acids like linoleic and linolenic, both found in flaxseed oil, and arachidonic acid, which is found in meat fat and butter (the three are also known as vitamin F), take the calcium from the blood and put it into the tissues. Suppose you get D and no F. Your blood calcium will increase at the expense of tissue calcium level. That’s why people who are in the sun get thick skin if they don’t eat enough vitamin F, which is primarily in oils. Too much D, not enough F. The illustration I am trying to make is how easy a well meaning person can mess up his/her physiology by throwing a bunch of synthetic vitamins into his/her system.
Healthy, Natural Sources Of Vitamin D
What is the best source of vitamin D, you ask? Cod liver oil, like our grandmothers used. Strangely enough, I have found a lot of resistance to this food recommendation. The next best thing is a Standard Process product called Cataplex D because it comes with the other necessary synergists, such as vitamin A to make the D help you, not hurt you. I don’t want this to become a chemistry lesson, but it is also imperative that vitamin D is balanced with vitamin A, as well as usable calcium. Too much vitamin D depletes vitamin K. Because vitamin K is involved in helping you maintain strong bones and keeping calcium out of your blood vessels, this ratio is critical. In the presence of adequate vitamin A, the vitamin K depletion is avoided. If your intake of essential fats is low or you are vegetarian, I also recommend Cataplex F. I’ve talked about Standard Process as the only whole food supplement company that has been true to the whole food philosophy since its beginnings, more than 80 years ago. To learn more about how to distinguish supplements that are food versus supplements that are chemicals, visit my Whole Food Supplements page. There, you’ll find a good explanation that will help to guide you through the supplement jungle.
Vitamin D is the “vitamin du jour.” Everybody is recommending it, including your medical doctor, who, unfortunately for you, probably had no training in nutrition. This is what my admonition for using food source supplementation is about. Food mitigates the dangers of whatever happens to be the new vitamin fad. Real food already comes perfectly balanced. All the factors, known and unknown, that make it our effective source of nutrition are already there. Eat right, live well, and I hope to see you smiling on the dance floor this winter.
This article was first published in the Delaware Valley Dance Spotlight, January/February 2012. It is the sole work of its author, Dr. Veronica Collings DC.