PLATTSBURGH - Low temperatures and dreary days getting you down?
According to www.webmd.com, regions where sunlight decreases during the fall and winter season, individuals can be subject to mood and health fluctuations. Lack of sunlight is linked with mood disorders such as seasonal affective disorder. Symptoms of the condition, more commonly known as SAD, include sad or anxious mood, loss of interest in habitual activities, tiredness during the day, consumption of foods high in carbohydrates, and weight gain. Although the cause of SAD is still unknown, many attribute it to a deficiency of vitamin D, which is absorbed through exposure to sunlight, and is linked to increased immune system health. Recommended treatments for SAD include counseling, antidepressants, vitamin supplements, and light therapy. Physical and social activities may also boost one's mood.
"It's easy to get sad in the winter," said Bob Fiske, owner of Nutri Shop in Plattsburgh. "Someone that lives in Florida is getting vitamin D right from the sun, because they're outside all the time. But in the winter up here when it's 15 degrees outside, we're not outside too much."
With less exposure to sunlight and vitamin D, Fiskenoted, "It's easy to get depressed in the winter, especially if you're an older person and can't get out."
Although vitamin D can be absorbed in smaller amounts through foods such as milk, Fiske noted the increased sale of vitamin D during the winter season.
"It's definitely becoming more popular," he said, "with customers coming in and buying vitamin D."
"More and more people are becoming aware of it," Fiske added, referring to vitamin D's recent notoriety in the media, and recent research.
For those looking to purchase vitamin D products, Fiske recommended supplements which also include calcium, or other vitamins for better absorption.
"There's no sense taking a vitamin if it's not going to be absorbed anyway," he said.
Fiske added liquid vitamins are a better form of vitamin consumption, despite a shorter shelf life. As a nutritionist and health advocate, Fiske admitted he is no expert on the amount of vitamin D one should take, noting the large amount of divergent data, and research which doesn't take into account differing geographical locations.
"None of the research [breaks] down geographic location, which to me is one of the biggest factors in the whole thing - there's nothing out there that I can find that says stuff like that."
In response to customer inquiries, Fiske has done research to answer questions, but has found a lot of conflicting information.
"Some researchers say we should take up to 1,000 [units of vitamin D] a day, while some say as much as 4,000," he said.
One thing Fiske's research has found however, is most researchers agree vitamin D is beneficial.
"There are benefits for dental health, depression, and all kinds of things," he said. "It seems like everybody says we need to take vitamin D."
Fran Anderson of Premiere Tan & Body Center in Plattsburgh noticed a similarity.
"Isee a lot of customers that come in for seasonal depression," Anderson said.
Additionally, she said exposure to ultraviolet light helps "with vitamin D, depression, and skin disorders."
Ironically, Anderson does not utilize the tanning facilities she runs.
"My doctor told me my vitamin D was low," she said. "The first thing he asked was 'Don't you ever get in those beds of yours?'"
Like most therapeutic treatment avenues, Anderson stressed customers "use caution," but also acknowledged "everything has its plusses and minuses."
Individuals should always consult their doctor before taking supplements, or tanning for the first time. For more information call Anderson at 561-3127, Fiske at 324-6996, or visit premieretan.org or www.nutrishopusa.com.