4 Supplements to fight off the Autumn & Winter blues
Last night I had a possum trying to break into my house as I slept, or rather, tried to. Although I went to bed around half-past ten, my Oura ring had me going to sleep at 11.30 pm—wayyyy past my bedtime. Now the break-and-entering possum business? Ah, this was a first. I guess poss is new to the neighbourhood and tried no less than 13 times to break into various locations of my home. I felt groggy, grumpy and not refreshed this morning when I got up.
For some of us, the struggle is real to get up in the morning, to get into action, and we often call ourselves names like lazy or unmotivated when something else is going on, especially in the colder months.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), aka the winter blues, winter depression, seasonal depression, or even summer depression, looks the same as clinical depression symptom-wise, except it syncs up with seasons. Usually, seasonal depression starts in the autumn as the days get shorter and gets better in spring when the sun sets later. Watch out for symptoms like ⤵
Carbohydrate and sugar cravings
A noticeable drop in energy
Tendency to sleep a lot
Feelings of worthlessness
Lack of motivation
A reduction in energy, noticeable fatigue
Changes in appetite or weight
Physical pains, including headaches, joint pains, and even digestive problems
So what can we do to ensure our mood is managed?
While simply popping pills is not the solution, it can be one part of a greater holistic solution, which I’m writing about this week. Why day by day? So you can action one thing a day, rather than a big to-do list. Today is day two, and here’s a supplement hit list according to yours truly. Consider adding one or all of these into your supplement repertoire.
NOTE. I’m not a doctor, nor am I a medical professional, so none of these are doctor-approved recommendations. Please consult your medical professional for expert advice on what to implement that’s right for you.
The Power of Vitamin D
Vitamin D’s nickname is the sunshine vitamin because we get it when direct sunlight comes into contact with our skin, so it’s no surprise that our levels are often low in the winter. Focus on eating vitamin D-rich foods like egg yolks and wild-caught fish, and consider a daily supplement.
Studies show? Studies have shown that Vitamin D can expedite healing, stall inflammation in the respiratory system and ward off SAD—Seasonal Affective Disorder. Vitamin D is also essential for immune function.
Dose: 1,000 to 4,000 IU of supplemental vitamin D3 (approx)
Investment: Under $10 from iHerb
Research has shown that 5HTP can be as effective as the compound tryptophan in increasing your body’s serotonin levels, effectively treating insomnia, and improving sleep quality.
Contraindications: Seek medical advice. If you are on antidepressants or tramadol, you can not take 5-HTP as it will likely interact with your meds.
Dose: Talk to your doctor. Research has shown that 5HTP can help with depression, anxiety, sleep, mood, weight loss, pain, headaches, migraines and more; however, the studies had different doses and frequencies of administration.
The science says people experiencing winter depression typically have low serotonin levels and high melatonin levels. People who suffer from seasonal affective disorder may overproduce melatonin, causing them to feel sleepy during the day. This is common for people who experience SAD in the winter. A small number of people experience SAD in the summer, which often causes them to have difficulty sleeping. Melatonin supplementation may help with this condition. Melatonin can assist with getting circadian rhythms — our sleep cycle — back on track which will help us have a more restful sleep.
One study suggests using melatonin to intentionally fall asleep earlier. We can reset our circadian rhythm so we are awake during more daylight hours than night.
Dose: Chat to your doctor, who can also prescribe melatonin. It is available over the counter in Australia to those over 55. It is also available online, but the quality, in my experience, is not the same as a prescription. This article unpacks the Best Melatonin Supplements Approved by a Dietitian if you want to go that route.
Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)
Why? The link between vitamin C and mood might seem surprising, but people who have vitamin C deficiency often feel fatigued or depressed. Some studies have shown that people who have lower than normal vitamin C levels found that their mood improved after they received vitamin C. Vitamin C deficiency has been associated with depression and cognitive impairment. Vitamin C is vital for immune health. Vitamin C might interact with some medications or cancer treatments.
Are you on antidepressants? Read this: The administration of ascorbic acid combined with antidepressant therapy reduced the Hamilton depression rating scale compared to the antidepressant therapy effect without ascorbic acid administration. This indicates that ascorbic acid improves the antidepressant therapy and reduces its side effects. Read the research.
Dose: Booster supplemental daily doses are typically between 250 and 1,000 mg. The upper limit for vitamin C is 2,000 mg.
The recommended daily amount is 75 mg/day for women and 90 mg/day for men. Learn more here before you decide on your dose.
Step 1: Research. Step 2: Telehealth appointment with your doctor. Step 3: Choose & Implement supplements as part of your morning or evening routine.
The tiniest changes can make the biggest difference when repeated consistently over time.