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All-time low

It’s a tough time of year with short dark days and viruses taking over, but you don’t have to be tired and sad all the time

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a common issue in Ireland and it is mainly linked to a lack of vitamin D leading to reduced immune protection, circulation and energy.

“Sometimes customers say they feel a bit sluggish and lethargic and perhaps lacklustre at this time of year,” says Matt Ronan of Evolv in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford. “We explain that this may be linked to the season and once we unlock this element we can begin to make it much easier for them to deal with what they are experiencing.” Many people look for a tonic or pick-me-up in the autumn as prevention, before they start feeling down or catching bugs.

The role of food

“It’s important at this time of year that your diet is not dependent on sugary snacks and coffee to give short-lived energy during the day,” says Matt Ronan.

Vitamin D helps the body to absorb other vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and phosphate, and it is this vitamin that we cannot source from sunshine in the winter. Foods rich in vitamin D include salmon, milk and dairy products (fortified), eggs, tuna and other tinned fish such as sardines, tofu and fresh orange juice.

Serotonin is the ‘happy hormone’ made by the body which can lift our mood. It is made from tryptophan which is found in fish, bananas, dried dates, soya, almonds, peanut and dairy products.

Keep active outdoors

“Having an activity which generates some mental interest and energy like yoga is beneficial at this time of year,” says Matt Ronan. “And getting outdoors for a period of time each day is always beneficial for mood and the mind. The weather is never as bad as it looks.” Get wrapped up and head out for a walk - this will increase your energy and give you fresh air. 10 minutes of yoga per day can alleviate your mood and help you to destress.

The power of scent

Aromatherapy oils can be a real boost to your mood, circulation and energy levels. Try vaporising oils in a burner at home, or drop into a bath or on your pillow. Warming essential oils include ginger, thyme, rosemary, frankincense and black pepper. Mood enhancers for depression and sadness include ylang ylang, bergamot, rose and neroli.

Light therapy

Light therapy from being exposed to bright light from a light box can rebalance the hormones melatonin and serotonin and get your circadian rhythm back in balance. Take some advice on this from a healthcare professional before trying it.

“We now stock SAD lamps which try to recreate the brilliance of natural sunlight and stimulate the brain to be more alert and have better mood,” says Matt Ronan. “Sitting in an area where these lamps can feed your eyes with this light for an hour per day can be very beneficial.”

Super supplements

“Obviously top of the list for seasonal sadness is vitamin D,” says Matt Ronan. “Also I would recommend a top quality energy-boosting supplement combined with rhodiola which has an element of mood support to it.” Other super supplements include:

  • L-arginine and L-citrulline - help to relax blood vessels, increasing blood flow and promoting healthy circulation.
  • B vitamins - vital for functions like energy production, sleep and mood.
  • Vitamin C - take daily to support immunity.
  • Coenzyme Q10 - naturally found in almost every cell in your body, essential for producing cellular energy.
  • Vitamin D - helps with immunity during winter and improves mood. It is particularly well-absorbed when sprayed in to the mouth.
  • Probiotic (multistrain live native bacteria) - help the gut and digestion and keep the immune system in good shape. Can have a positive effect on mood.
  • Herbs rhodiola, ginseng or ashwagandha - help boost energy levels.

Check with your professional healthcare practitioner before you take any new supplements.

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