Vitamin D Is Extra Important During The Winter

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A new study has found that 1 in 2 London office workers only see the sunlight for a maximum of 30 minutes per day in the winter. Two thirds of those surveyed admit they only see it for a maximum of an hour.

The same goes for most countries in the northern hemisphere and it could actually be making people more depressive. If you live in an area where the sun is gone by 4 pm, you might not see much daylight during your day and that is especially true for factory workers.

The health risks of lack of sunlight

It’s pretty demoralising to look at the weather app and see nothing but rain. It’s even harder to look out of the window come 3pm to see the dark setting in.

A new study has found that 1 in 2 London office workers only see the sunlight for a maximum of 30 minutes per day in the winter. Two thirds of those surveyed admit they only see it for a maximum of an hour.

The research, by Sol, surveyed 2,001 people about how often they see sunlight.

With this type of research coming to light, it’s no wonder so many of us feel the affects of the winter blues.

READ MORE: Turn on more lights to keep warm, research suggests

What happens when we don’t get enough sun, though? We’re told time and time again about the detrimental impact the sun can have on our skin, but it’s also an essential source of vitamin D.

1 in 5 people in the UK suffer from a vitamin D deficiency. One of the problems associated with this deficiency is depression.

Therapist, Christine Elvin, sees a marked increase in the number of people coming to her for seasonal related issues come Autumn.

“Seasonal depression is linked to a vitamin D deficiency. The NHS recommends that we all take vitamin D supplements in the winter because it’s not that easy to get it from food.”

“Seasonal Affective Disorder is more common than you might think and although you might not be able to keep the impact entirely at bay with vitamin D, it’s a good place to start.”

Depression isn’t the only issue impacted by lack of sunlight. Weak bones, certain cancers, skin problems, weight gain and cognitive brain functions are all side-effects of it, too.

The first signs of problems associated with lack of sunlight include:

  • Tiredness
  • Frequent illness
  • Low mood
  • Hair loss
  • Muscle pain

When you’ve had too much ‘sunshine vitamin’

From late March/early April to the end of September, most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need, but between October and early March people stand risk of not getting enough.

The main consequence of taking too much vitamin D is a buildup of calcium in the blood, a condition called hypercalcemia. Early symptoms of hypercalcemia include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation and weakness.

If you choose to take vitamin D supplements, 10 micrograms a day is considered enough for most people.

Don’t take more than 100 micrograms of vitamin D a day as it could be harmful. This applies to adults, including pregnant and breastfeeding women and the elderly, and children aged 11 to 17 years.

Children aged 1 to 10 years shouldn’t have more than 50 micrograms a day. Infants under 12 months shouldn’t have more than 25 micrograms a day.

*Some people have medical conditions that mean they may not be able to safely take as much. If in doubt, you should consult your doctor.

Health impacts of daylight saving time

During daylight saving time, we don’t get a choice of changing our clocks. Just like some of us don’t get a choice with how the lack of daylight affect us.

Falling back and the lack of sunlight can disrupt more than just your sleep. It can increase the rate of cardiac issues, stroke, and even car accidents.

Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD), which is a sub-type of depression can include oversleeping, being overly tired, carb craving, and weight gain. Dr. Mattson said, it’s important to remember to put yourself and your health first, especially if you’re having trouble during seasonal changes. He said the best thing to do is address any health concerns you may be have, and speak to your family, friends, and doctor.

Ways you can take care of yourself while you’re adjusting to the time change:

– Experience as much daylight as possible:
Lack of exposure to the sun is catalyst for SAD. Go for walks, sit by a window, or try light therapy.

– Stay active:
Avoid staying coped up inside and get your body moving. It’s a way to get light exposure, and increase your body temperatures.

– Limit caffeine intake:
You can still enjoy your morning cup of coffee, however do not go overboard if your feel ‘slumped’ in the middle of your day.

– Stick to sleep schedule:
It’s best to stick to your sleep schedule, and avoid naps when possible. You do not want to manipulate your sleep schedule because it will be difficult to get back on track.

– Seek professional help:
If you feel that you’re struggling with depression, a mental health professional would be able to determine if your are suffering from SAD, and give you ways to treat it.

Global Dimming

In the second half of the 20th century, the world became, quite literally, a darker place.

Defying expectation and easy explanation, hundreds of instruments around the world recorded a drop in sunshine reaching the surface of Earth, as much as 10 percent from the late 1950s to the early ’90s, or 2 to 3 percent per decade. In some areas such as Asia, the United States and Europe, the drop was even steeper. Hong Kong saw a 37 percent decrease in its sunlight.

Pollution dims sunlight in two ways, scientists believe. Some of the light bounces off soot particles in the air and back into outer space. Pollution also causes more water droplets to condense out of air, leading to thicker, darker clouds that also block more light. For that reason, the dimming effect appears to be more pronounced on cloudy days than sunny ones. In some less polluted regions, there has been little or no dimming.

Nature.com: First sun-dimming experiment will test a way to cool Earth

But the dynamics and effects of global dimming are not completely understood. Antarctica, which would be expected to have clean air, also has dimmed.

This effect is now well-established in scientific research, including the well-known pan evaporation data which highly corroborates reasons to think aerosols cause global dimming.

“Global dimming has devastating effects on the earth’s environment and living beings. The pollutants causing global dimming also lead to acid rainsmog and respiratory diseases in humans. [It also destroys and acidifies natural habitats for animal and plant life].” ⁠

Conserve Energy Future

The top researchers in this field are still investigating what the impacts of these phenomena might be on average global temperatures (AGT), how global or regional these impacts are, and what mitigating strategies might effectively reduce these impacts. This is a matter of scientific inquiry much under investigation.  There are also inherent difficulties in modelling. This is an as yet understudied phenomena with many potential unknowns still being revealed.

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