Fall brings low vitamin D

By Stephen Springer - Spring into thought



Americans love fall. It brings the holiday season, warm sweaters and pumpkin spice everything.

My problem with fall stems from some of the obvious downsides, such as flu season, finding parking in the beginning of Fall Quarter and a less obvious reason—less vitamin D.

One of the disadvantages about living so far north is that the days get shorter while nighttime gets longer.

When sunlight makes contact with your skin, your body creates vitamin D which is used for calcium absorption and promotes bone density, to name a couple.

With less daylight comes less of the mood-regulating serotonin in your brain. This can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, fatigue and even suicidal thoughts.

When this happens, it is referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD for short. 

Luckily, there are options to deal with this deficiency in the form of supplement pills, diet and there is even a FDA-recognized light therapy box to make your skin produce its own vitamin D.

Under normal circumstances, as little as 10 minutes of direct sunlight in shorts and a tank top without sunscreen will give your body 10,000 internal units or IUs of vitamin D.

Thankfully, your body cannot produce more of the vitamin than would be healthy.

For reference, the Mayo Clinic recommends 600 IUs for people from ages 1 to 70 years old.

Living in the Northwest can really take a toll on your vitamin D intake, not only because of reduced daylight, but because of the constant cloud cover.

As an example, Seattle is tied with Buffalo, NY for dreariest city in the United States. 

It can be good to be cognizant of vitamin D deficiency but it is important to remember mental health problems aren't confined to the winter months and vitamin D is not a magic pill to ward off depression.

If you are feeling suicidal talk to a doctor, someone you trust or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

I promise you aren't alone.

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