The cause of SAD is unknown, but it may be due to decreased sunlight exposure which affects your body’s sleep-wake cycle, or a drop in serotonin and melatonin levels. Ten million Americans suffer from SAD every year. Having a family member with SAD, having a diagnosis of depression or bipolar disorder, or living far from the equator can all put you at greater risk of this condition. Unfortunately, more women than men are diagnosed with SAD. Thankfully, there may be some nutrition tools that can help alleviate some of the symptoms.
First of all, fish oil has been shown in many studies to help with depression. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to help improve mood in adults. These fats can be found in oily fish such as tuna or salmon or other foods such as flaxseed, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.
Another strategy is to Include healthy carbohydrates in your diet that may actually help with depression. Of course, you want to make the sources of carbohydrates are foods such as whole fresh fruit, whole grains, milk, yogurt, and beans. Carbohydrates help your brain convert certain amino acids into serotonin, which is a “feel good” hormone.
Having low levels of vitamin D may be linked depression in some people. Supplementing with Vitamin D may be helpful to improve SAD. Talk with your doctor about testing your vitamin D level and the amount to take on a daily basis. Food sources of vitamin D include fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, liver, fortified milk, yogurt, and tofu, mushrooms, and eggs.
Magnesium may also play a role in boosting your mood. Foods rich is Magnesium include avocado, nuts and seeds, lentils, beans, tofu, whole grains, fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, halibut, tuna), bananas, leafy greens, and potato skin. Another option is to include a supplement daily.
Furthermore, some studies suggest a Mediterranean style diet can help treat depression. This style of eating incorporates plenty of non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, fruit, lean protein (fish, chicken, turkey), and healthy fat (olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds). This style of eating can also be helpful for managing diabetes and weight.
Hopefully some of these tips can help alleviate some of your SAD symptoms throughout the winter months. As always, before starting any nutrition supplement talk with your doctor about the correct dosage.
Guest blogger: NOMS Dietician, Megan Turner, MS, RDN, LD
Megan is accepting new patients via Telemedicine and in-office visits at 2500 W. Strub Road in Sandusky, Ohio.