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Surviving the Winter Blues

Midge Bowers - SkinBonesCME Speaker
Written by: Midge Bowers, DNP, FNP-BC, CHSE, AACC, FAANP

During the winter months, it is easy to get out of your daily routine and the shorter days mean that your circadian rhythms are disrupted putting you at risk for developing the winter blues. 

As a result of having less sun exposure during the winter months, and most Vitamin D is from the sun, consider taking a vitamin D supplement if you are not already doing so.

The NIH recommended daily allowance is 600 international units a day.

If you prefer to supplement your Vitamin D through your diet, consider a fish option such as salmon, tuna, sardines and swordfish or eggs, yogurt and cereals fortified with vitamin D. Adequate amounts of Vitamin D are necessary to promote cardiovascular health. Studies have shown the benefit of adequate Vitamin D levels in regulating blood pressure within the kidney. In addition, Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to be a risk factor for peripheral artery disease, heart failure, myocardial infarction, and stroke.

A reduced amount of sunlight impacts not only our vitamin D levels but our circadian rhythms and our moods during the winter months. Consider using bright light therapy with fluorescent light with an intensity of 10,000 lux for the same thirty minutes each day to minimize the potential for seasonal affective disorder (SAD). If light therapy is not an option you can try sitting closer to a window for a period of time every day.  

Exercise improves cardiovascular health and fitness, but it has also been studied to improve symptoms of mild to moderate depression, so winter is not the time to cut back. Recommendations for exercise 60 min/day three days a week or 35 min/day 5 days a week has been studied to show improved symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Take advantage of the winter weather and engage in outdoor activities in your area.  If you are not interested in winter sports, consider a short walk that will expose you to sunlight and gain some needed vitamin D.

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See Midge Bowers, DNP, FNP-BC, CHSE, AACC, FAANP speak at a 2020 Skin, Bones, Hearts & Private Parts conference in Atlanta, Virginia Beach, Pensacola Beach, or Orlando.