Archive for June, 2010

SAD? Then Catch the Sun

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Especially now mid winter is near it is easy to get depressed a little as we are getting up in the dark and come home at nightfall. It is called SAD, short for Seasonal Affective Disorder or winter depression.

The main contributors to SAD are reduced daylight hours and low fat diets. SAD affects you with depression, carbohydrate craving (a typical effect of low fat diet), increased need for sleep and lack of energy. It is a self-perpetuating cycle.

The Vitamin D, Melatonin and Diet connection

With the reduced sunlight (read reduced vitamin D production) and colder temperatures comes the reduced immune response to flues and head colds. SAD is emphasised by the following factors: increased melatonin, low cholesterol, low fat diets and sun block, and weight gain. These are all related. Not many health professionals have drawn the connection with low fat diets.

Low fat diets forced on us are probably THE major contributor to vitamin D deficiency. Think about the following vitamin D related conditions: cancer – more cases, heart disease – more cases, diabetes – more cases, obesity- more cases and the list goes on. Modern medical science tells us: Eat low fat – margarine is better than butter, cook with oils instead of animal fats, eggs are bad, low salt, high carbohydrate diets, low proteins (as they are associated with saturated fats), use sun block when you go outside. Most of these are old 1950’s thinking with no science back up.

Vitamin D production is closely related to diet as well as sunlight. 20 minute Summer time sun exposure on arm and face replaces the need to for vitamin D in foods. In winter that is not possible. There are a few another ways to get more Vitamin D:

1) Alternative light sources:

Not all light is the same. Light is rated in degrees Kelvin (k). White sunlight (5500K) will fragment into a spectrum of all colours like a rainbow when it passes through a prism. A normal household incandescent light bulb (approx. 4100K) does not create a true rainbow spectrum. Neither do those long fluorescent tubes with a harsher unflattering colour temperature. The new 5500K broad-spectrum lights, like the Viva-lite, simulating sunlight also include the so important near UV and mid UV range. When you put this light through a prism its spectrum is virtually identical to a rainbow. Both broad spectrum lighting and sunlight (at 5500K) are scientifically reported to help with lowering Stress hormone, Mood improvement, Fewer headaches, Slower aging of the retina, Increased productivity, and Reduced eye strain, increased Vitamin D production in the skin.

2) Foods and supplements

Best vitamin D foods to eat are cold-water ocean fish such as salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel, foods with saturated fats, butter, eggs; milk and orange juice are now being fortified but both of these are suspect food sources because they are immunologically destructive. If you are a vegetarian and avoid the sun as well as milk and animal fats your vitamin D intake is at risk, especially in winter. You can get the RDA for vitamin D by eating 1.5 kg of beef, 2 kg of corn oil, or 100 kg of cabbage. I wonder who would eat that much of these foods. However the same RDA is reached with 50 gram of salmon, or 2 grams of cod liver oil. Think twice when you have a strict vegetarian diet.

To recap:

By now the light should be on: catch your sunlight, avoid sun block, and replace your indoor lights with Full spectrum Viva-lite light bulbs. The most important winter supplement is Vitamin D 5000IU/day (or take 2 to 3 omega-3 fish oil capsules/day), eat real foods that have vitamin D (oily fish, butter and saturated fats to zonal quantities).
If you are suspecting you are suffering from a combination of depression, sleep problems, repeated colds and flues I strongly advise you to seek professional help.

Click here to read the whole article… (by Peter Riddering, BHSc (CompMed), Naturopath)

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Better Lighting For Your Computer

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Ever notice how people texting at night have that eerie blue glow? Or wake up ready to write down the Next Great Idea, and get blinded by your computer screen?

During the day, computer screens look good—they’re designed to look like the sun. But, at 9PM, 10PM, or 3AM, you probably shouldn’t be looking at the sun. This little software tool called “F.lux” is all you need to change it. It makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day. (more…)