Food and Thought newsletter - October 2023
Shorter Days Could Impact Your Mental Health Vitamin D is as vital for mental health as it is essential for physical health. During fall and winter months, when days are shorter, many people experience depression-like symptoms. This is believed to be at least partly due to lack of sun exposure—and lack of Vitamin D absorption into the skin. Research has shown that vitamin D, which is found in some foods and in the ultraviolet light from the sun, may play an important role in regulating mood and decreasing the risk of depression. According to the National Institutes of Health website, those groups who are at risk for vitamin D deficiency include the elderly, adolescents, obese individuals, and those with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes. These are the same groups that have also been reported to be at risk for depression. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d/
Foods Rich in Vitamin D
Few foods are naturally rich in vitamin D3. The best sources are the flesh of fatty fish and fish liver oils. Smaller amounts are found in egg yolks, cheese, and beef liver. Certain mushrooms contain some vitamin D2; in addition some commercially sold mushrooms contain higher amounts of D2 due to intentionally being exposed to high amounts of ultraviolet light. Many foods and supplements are fortified with vitamin D like dairy prod-ucts and cereals.
Depression, SAD and Diet
Seasonal depression, more formally known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a common mood disorder characterized by low energy, hope-lessness, difficulty concentrating, and sleep problems that coincide with the change in seasons, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The cause of SAD is likely multifactorial, and may include imbal-ances in mood-regulating brain chemicals, as well as a lack of vitamin D (from less sunlight), and an overproduction of the sleep-regulating hor-mone melatonin.
The 10 Best Foods to Soothe Seasonal Depression:
1. Salmon and Rainbow Trout
3. Whole grain bread + protein
4. Green, black or white tea
5. Green leafy vegetables
8. Whole grain pasta
9. Dark Chocolate
The Food and Thought Program works to promote awareness and provide short term counselling around the important link be-tween. nutrition and emotional health. For more information or for a referral to the program, please contact the Food and Thought Program at 781-599-0110.
This work is supported by the Beverly and Addison Gilbert Hospital Community Benefits Community Grant Program and the Essex County Community Foundation Behavioral Health Partnership Grant.