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S.a.d Lights And Vitamin D
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Hi

I have thought for years that I probably have seasonal affective disorder during the winter, as my moods tend to drop badly from about January to March.

When I had my blood testing done in May my vitamin D was a little low, in the range that my doctor should have told me and given me advice on sunlight etc.

I spend a minimum of 2 hours outside walking most days, and often several hour more, especially after the winter so was surprised to find it under.

My doctor and GI are totally unconcerned. My current official diagnosis is non celiac gluten intolerance cannot rule out celiac, as I could not do a gluten challenge.

So some questions.

Are SAD lights any good? How long do you need to use them for? What features are worth having? Are more expensive ones better?

Do they help with the vitamin D thing? Are SAD and vitamin D related?

Any other thoughts or advice appreciated

Thanks :)

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SAD lights won't affect your vitamin D levels ... they emit the wrong type of the UV light spectrum to generate vitamin D. However, I have tried both. Vitamin D3 supplements definitely helps me reduce inflammation. And the SAD lights do perk me up. I don't get depression related to SAD. But I do suffer from fatigue and idiopathic hypersomnia, which the SAD lights do help. The lights perk me up and I don't get tired until much later in the day.

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I'm way too cheap to spring for a SAD light, but I have a small halogen light from IKEA over my bed. I turn it on when I wake up and hang out in bed for a couple hours having coffee and listening to the radio. It makes a difference. I also try to keep more lights on in whatever room I'm hanging out in.

ETA - my bro lives in Norway and he and his wife sit in front of their light while having coffee every morning. Said they can't function without it.

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Thanks!

I always have loads of lights on, maybe that is why :)

Maybe Santa might consider one for me...

Is best to have it on in the morning? I get dreadful fatigueabout 2 in the afternoon, and then have insomnia at night.

I'll look into the D3, been thinking about that one.

I'd be useless in Norway. I went to Finland at midsummer when the sun doesn't set. It was amazing, up half the night but full of energy :)

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I think morning is usually the best time. Start while it's still dark out so you're extending your day. I forget where you are, but a walk about 2 in the afternoon, if it's sunny, is probably a good idea. Even cloudy will give you a dose of light. On miserable dark days use extra light for as many hours as you can. Light boxes provide a ton more light, but longer periods of lower light still help.

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I was dx'd w/ SAD 12 years ago. We got full spectrum lights in our house and 2 'sun-ray' full spectrum lamps. I stood in front of the larger one soon after I got up for 15-20 minutes. Later I sat beside the smaller 'sun-ray junior' while I ate breakfast (and lunch on really dark days). Since we live in Seattle, where dark, dreary days are the norm from late fall to late spring, I really felt more awake and energetic after sitting in front of 'sun ray' full spectrum lights. Ten years later I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's hypothyroidism. Although I spent 2 years working up to an effective dose, thyroid supplements made me more energetic (no matter the weather or sunlight) than full spectrum lights.

Because I had hypothyroid symptoms most of my life, I suspect my SAD was really hypothyroid. Hashimoto's is highly correlated with gluten intolerance. So if you feel tired all the time, feel colder than most people even in warm weather, have low blood pressure, low pulse, constipation, dry skin or any other unexplainable symptoms, consider getting a panel of thyroid hormone tests, including TSH, free T3, free T4 and TPOab (thyroid peroxidase antibodies).

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FYI, if you're far enough north (above california, I think, but I forget exactly where), there is not enough UV light getting through the atmosphere (due to how low in the sky the sun is) to generate vit D in your skin regardless of how long you are outside.

I made my own SAD light in a spare room we used to have. That, full spectrum bulbs, and being outside as much as I can even in the darker/drearier weather has all been important. And getting exercise every day! (Here's a set of pictures about creating my own light: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tarnalberry/sets/72157594316820083/. One of the interesting things I learned is that the amount of light required to actually affect SAD is quite large. Our eyes adjust to lower levels of light easily, so it's very hard to measure by eye - if not impossible - but you can use other things, like camera meters and calculations. It's not the sort of thing you're going to get out of commercially available light bulbs in the numbers normally present in a single room. My setup here required 16 40w bulbs, with me sitting withing three feet of the lights, in order to approximate mid-day diffuse light (shade of a tree) in August.)

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Wow thanks everyone.

I have wondering about Hashimotos. I think once I get my genetic testing results I will have a chat with my doctor. How exciting, another condition to research.

Tarnalberry that is really useful info. I am in the UK, towards the bottom so I will check it out. I think Santa will have his work cut out sourcing something for me :)

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