Avoid seasonal blues and Vitamin D deficiency with these winning health boosters
Although spring is on its way, the typical British cold and rain can make the body think that it’s still winter. Low levels of sunlight can have a real impact on wellbeing, with millions of Brits suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and Vitamin D deficiency.
An important nutrient for healthy bones, we get 90% of our Vitamin D from sunlight – which makes it tricky to get enough during the winter. Lack of Vitamin D causes tender, achy bones and joint pain. Especially at risk are people over 65, those with darker skin or who spend the day indoors.
If you find it hard to keep your spirits up in the winter, it’s no coincidence. Sunlight boosts the supply of serotonin (the ?happy hormone?) – which means darker days have the opposite effect. This can disrupt sleep and leave you feeling depressed and irritable, a clutch of unpleasant symptoms known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Click through to discover simple ways to stay healthy and happy this season…
Do you start your day off with 2 or 3 alarms just to get you out of bed? Traditional alarm clocks can jolt you out of your natural sleep cycle, making you groggy, confused and miserable when you wake up.
The Lumie Bodyclock simulates dawn, gradually waking you with increasing natural light. This helps the body stop producing sleep hormones like melatonin, or increase levels when you're winding down at night. They've been shown to help regulate your sleep cycle, boost your mood and energy levels
The amount of time you need to spend outdoors to make enough vitamin D depends on factors including your skin type and the amount of skin exposed.
The most effective time of day is 11am-3pm, so use your lunch break to take a walk - at least 15 minutes is best.
Once the clocks go back, it's time to make the most of the daylight there is - get up early and if you're indoors, try to sit by a window.
If the weak winter sunlight isn't enough, the Department Of Health recommends boosting your Vitamin D levels with a daily supplement, such as cod liver oil, widely available at supermarkets and health food shops.
It can be tempting to hibernate over the winter, but push yourself to do some exercise and you'll really notice the difference.
As well as keeping you trim, exercise stimulates serotonin production for an instant mood boost. If you feel achier over the winter (or don't fancy braving the outdoors), swimming is especially gentle on joints.
Despite the temptation to hole up with comfort food, healthy eating can have a real effect on your state of mind.
Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates, which send you on a rollercoaster of sugar peaks and crashes. Eating healthily with slow-release carbohydrates, fruit and veg will keep your mood balanced - try brown rice, sweet potatoes and lentils.
If all else fails, treat yourself to a dose of real sunshine. When the hurly-burly of Christmas is over, escape on a winter sun break and forget the drizzle you've left behind!