With the daylight hours beginning to wane, it would seem, so are most peoples energy levels. You are far from being the bright eyed and bushy tailed morning bunny that you were merely a couple of months ago. Getting out of bed in the mornings is met with a lengthy procrastination and the office desk looks like an appealing venue for a little mid afternoon snooze. You read somewhere that a cheeky 15 minute nap after lunch actually increases productivity. Instead of being your usual productive self, you’re dreaming up the perfect excuse in case you are rumbled by the boss. Why are you feeling tired all the time lately?
SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is thought to affect a third of the population in the UK and affects up to 40% more women than men. The symptoms are lethargy, low self esteem, low confidence and anxiety. Waking up in the dark and living the day indoors, in mostly artificial light only then to commute back home in the dark again begins to fool the brain into thinking it’s still sleep time. The weather has a big part to play in our mood and the way we feel. Think how in the summer, you’d dress with bright colours and a more fun outlook on the day. Now greys, blacks and autumnal colours like brown and dark reds are flavour of the month. Light boxes are effective at fooling your body into waking up naturally by slowly lighting up in the morning giving you a sense of natural sunrise and releasing happy hormones. It makes a nice start to the day. Wearing a little something bright or colourful like yellows, greens and orange again will help elevate your mood and feel your usual happy self again.
Low Vitamin D levels have symptoms of muscle weakness, low mood and anxiety. The shorter days do not help with getting enough natural sunlight especially when it feels too cold to go out. It is observed that most office workers get as little as 15 minutes a day outside in the sun and in winter most of your skin is covered up so Vitamin D synthesis is virtually nil. A daily supplement is easy and I suggest the very one I use, D-Lux 3000units oral spray. This pleasant tasting spray absorbs directly into your blood through your cheeks and from under your tongue. Even my kids love it.
It is reported that about an astonishing 1 in 10 people in the UK are deficient in Vitamin B12. With the NHS threshold values already set too low, the figure could be much higher. Low Vitamin B12 levels, even at a level deemed normal by NHS reference values can lead to symptoms of fatigue, lack of energy, breathlessness, pale skin, palpitations, loss of appetite and depression.
The best way to find out your levels is a simple blood test from your GP. Whilst you’re there ask them to check your Vitamin D and folate levels too. Make sure you receive the actual values rather than a ‘your levels are normal, no action required’ response. You want to be at the top of the healthy levels rather than the bottom half.
Low folate levels will cause a reduced sense of taste, diarrhoea, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, muscle weakness and depression.
As B vitamins and folate (Vitamin B9) are water soluble and not easily retained by the body, you can take supplements at recommended amounts quite safely with a very low risk of toxicity and overdose. A recent check of my own Vitamin B12 levels showed a level of 400ng/l with the healthy reference range being 180-999ng/l. I hoped my B12 level would be at a minimum of 600ng/l so I started a short course of Vitamin B12 injections at VitB12shot SW London. Vitamin B12 injections are quick and relatively painless in the top of the arm, and you continue with the rest of day as normal. I will keep you posted with my next B12 level! So far I’m feeling very energised and my concentration levels have improved. I no longer feel mentally drained by the end of a working day no matter what stresses and strains work throws at me. If you are not a fan of needles, I would suggest a lozenge containing 1000ug of Vitamin B12 made by Solgar that dissolves under the tongue. Folate levels can be easily increased by taking 400-800ug folic acid supplements. Choose a good brand like Solgar, Lamberts or Vega vitamins. Folic acid functions in the synthesis if RNA, DNA and amino acids required for healthy cell division. This prevents anemia and is vital during pregnancy to avoid the baby suffering from spina bifida.
In the diet, Vitamin B12 and folates are found in the highest levels from red meats. It can be a problem for vegetarians and vegans who are most likely to be deficient. Spinach, black-eye peas, fortified cereals, asparagus and brussel sprouts have high levels of folate whilst Nori (an algae product from Asian supermarkets and in some sushi), Shitake mushroom and dairy are good sources of Vitamin B12. However supplementation may be the only real way to achieve good B12 levels for non meat eaters.
Winter is coming, the weather seems bleak but your mood and energy levels don’t have to be. Make sure you are nutritionally topped up and try a lightbox to wake you up gently rather than the alarm clock chimes from your smart phone. Now’s the time to keep your body from feeling the winter blues. We still have January to deal with…
Written By: Bhavash Padhiar
A pharmacist with over two decades of clinical experience – ranging from working in hospitals and serious injury units to owning an NHS pharmacy – Wimblederm founder Bhavash Padhiar has expertise in medicine, clinical pharmacy and advanced medispa treatments.