Keep it Simple: A scarcity of Vitamin D – Petoskey News-Review




Monday was a sunny day and it was long overdue and welcomed I’m sure by people throughout Northern Michigan.

The following paragraph was written on Sunday — prior to Monday’s sun storm of sunshine. A lot can change in one day’s time.

I’m trying to recall the last time we have enjoyed a sunny day and I’m coming up empty. As of Sunday, the day this column was started, I believe the last sunny day experienced in Gaylord was Aug. 12, 1999 — or at least it seems as though that is the last date we experienced a sunny sunrise and sunset all on the same day. The way the sunless sky has been for weeks at a time this winter, I would be more than happy with an afternoon of sunshine — forget the sunrise/sunset idea of the sun peaking from behind a few wispy clouds for the better part of a day.

It’s now Monday/sun day, and I’ve sat down to finish this week’s column.

Despite Monday’s rare treat of sunlight, this winter has been mostly doom and gloom from a meteorological standpoint. It hasn’t been a good winter for those people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. SAD is more commonly known as the winter blues, winter depression or cabin fever and is a mood disorder in which people are prone to experiencing a mild case of depression or the blues during the winter months when the days are shorter and sunlight is often in short supply.

A lack of sunshine — which believe it or not, sunshine provides a shot of Vitamin D to people — in the winter months can contribute to symptoms of feeling down. Vitamin D, along with the proper amounts of serotonin in the brain, help with combating moods of depression.

With that said it is a wonder people here in Northern Michigan, especially this winter, don’t suffer from SAD in the longer wintery, sunless months of December, January and February.

Typically, after Christmas and a lot of cloudy December weather, January seems to be a cold, clear month — to a degree. While not summer sunny most days of the month, January seems to have its share of sunny days. February too, more often than not, has a fair amount of sunny days.

This winter, not so much. We had an extended January thaw in which most every day was a dreary mix of clouds, drizzle and rain. The rest of January wasn’t much better. Last month I read in the Detroit Free Press that in December, Detroit had two days of sunshine. I believe it, and I believe we had only those two days of sun here in Northern Michigan.

Other than Monday’s sunny disposition, February has been playing along in the sun department about the same as December and January did. Let’s hope for the sake of those suffering the winter blues from a lack of sunshine are treated to a sunnier than usual second half of February.

I don’t feel as though SAD has made me sad this winter, but I do know that while I usually get outside this time of year for exercise on my snowshoes or a jog down the road, my enthusiasm and motivation have been nil of late. It seems too cold, too snowy, too cloudy to go outside. A classic case of cabin fever, if ever there was one.

I know I need to get out today (Monday) and go for a walk or snowshoe or just stand out in the driveway facing the sun and soaking up those free rays of Vitamin D offered by ol’ Mr. Sun.

It’s as simple as that. That, or sit around moping inside, flirting around with the winter blues indeed.

Michael Jones is a columnist and contributor for the Gaylord Herald Times. He can be reached at mfomike2@gmail.com.



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