It’s the so-called sunshine vitamin – should we all be taking it? With prescriptions for Vitamin D continuing to rise and with the clocks going back tomorrow is Vitamin D the answer to our winter blues?
In summer, we get our Vitamin D from the sun, helping our bodies absorb nutrients to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. During winter this is difficult due to the lack of sunlight.
Mr Anand Shah, a pharmacist at Cotham Pharmacy in Bristol said:
“We’re seeing a massive rise in Vitamin D prescriptions and testing; it’s a big issue.”
“People are happier in the summer, the sunshine is out, so they’re getting their Vitamin D from the sun while this is much harder to do in winter time and it does impact on people’s health.”
Australian Derek Graham finds UK winter hard.
“The concept of getting up in the dark and going to work in the dark and sitting in the office all day fills me with dread and really affects my mood; Last winter I took Vitamin D and it was definitely a lot easier.”
Symptoms of SAD can include, a persistent low mood, irritability, sleeping longer and finding it difficult to get up, craving carbohydrates and gaining weight. Symptoms can be severe and have a significant impact on daily life.
Some people find that sitting by a specialised light box helps. The light stimulates the missing daylight, reducing the production of melatonin (a hormone that makes you sleepy) and increases the production of serotonin (a hormone that affects your mood).
Financial adviser Ian Else uses a SAD lamp regularly and finds the days without it difficult.
“I had a really early appointment in London which meant I had to leave the house at about 7 o’clock and get in the car and I didn’t use the SAD lamp because I thought it would wake up my partner too early and the difference in my alertness on the way to London was really significant,” he said.
“So, I learnt my lesson there. I’ll be sure to use a SAD lamp every day.”
The symptoms of SAD are similar to depression and the NHS recommends seeing your GP if you are finding it hard to cope.