January 30, 2006

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Addenda to Last Week's Article (on S.A.D.)

I heard from several of you about Seasonal Affective Disorder; it's clear I have plenty of fellow-sufferers. I wanted to clarify one thing, though: If you decide to take vitamin D supplements, discontinue taking 2000-3000 IUs per day as soon as you start getting some sun in the spring. 400-1000 IUs is far more reasonable in the summer, assuming you spend some time outside, and don't bath in SPF 4,683 every time you set foot out the door. Vitamin D overdose isn't common, but it's not unknown.

A couple of readers added their experience with SAD. A reader named Karen says:

I just wanted to add one thing to your SAD article. My brother, who lived in Pittsburgh., where the sun doesn't shine much in winter, found that if he started going to a tanning salon in late November, he didn't get depressed or crave carbs.

Something to think about.

I've heard of this too, but didn't mention it because I couldn't find anything in the Pubmed Database. Most medical websites recommend not using tanning beds for phototherapy, and insist that the light must shine in the eyes (which is dangerous in a tanning booth) to be effective.

However, if Karen's brother was using a bed that provided both UVA and UVB light, it might be that the improvement is due to increased vitamin D levels.

(Too, I find sun phobia to be a lot like fat phobia - everyone is just sure that sun is bad for you, but the research doesn't back it up. There's growing evidence that sun exposure without burning actually has many benefits, and cancer rates are lower in the southern part of the USA than they are in the north.)

Another reader wrote regarding the use of a light box:

Spare yourself the trouble and the money.. I spent well over $200 and it did not work at ALL with sitting closely in front of it for 30 minutes a day.. it was a waste of money..! Good luck to you. I live in Berlin, Germany and believe me, I can relate to the gray dark days.. it is TOUGH!

All I can say is thank goodness January is almost over, February is a short month, and by March it's usually spring here in Southern Indiana!

Posted by HoldTheToast at January 30, 2006 09:49 PM