When getting vitamin D levels tested, many shift workers show up as being ‘deficient’.
In other words, they fall short of fitting within what’s deemed to be the healthy range.
However serum vitamin D, is simply a proxy marker for sun exposure.
Clinical trials have found vitamin D supplementation provides little to any meaningful health benefits.
It’s the sunlight, along with it’s related factors, which are responsible for the beneficial effect on human health.
The number 1 most commonly used drug in the world today is coffee, and this is because the vast proportion of the population is not exposed to the morning light.
We’ve moved from spending so much of our lives outdoors, to a completely indoor one and shift workers are especially vulnerable due to having to work shifts that go against the body’s innate timing system or circadian rhythm.
Morning light exposure stimulates the eye to instigate subconscious functions within the body. It activates the autonomic nervous system, part of the body that controls heartbeat, waste excretion, hunger, thirst etc.
Does your job involve sitting inside all day (and maybe night?) Have you spent years on a weight gain-weight-loss-weight-gain roller coaster?
Could lack of sunlight be a contributing factor? My simple answer to that is “yes, most definitely”.
Without sufficient vitamin D, AKA vitamin “daylight”, your body thinks you are hibernating.
It thinks winter is coming.
So what does it instinctively do as a response?
It slows down the metabolism, encouraging you to eat more, and store lots of fat to help you to “see through the winter”.
Even when it’s not winter!
Are you somone like me that suffers from SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a depression that many people experience during the winter months which causes you to feel down, gloomy, and lose energy. It is actually very common in people who live in the Northern Hemisphere where they don’t get much sunlight.
For me … well I really don’t like being cold so just the thought of heading towards winter makes me feel depressed! I’m definitely a ‘warm weather girl’ which is exactly why I live in sunny Queensland Australia!
Symptoms of S.A.D can include fatigue, weight gain, sleep problems such as insomnia and hypersomnia, mood swings, introversion and food cravings.
So what can you do to help relieve the symptoms?
Studies have shown that ‘light therapy’ can actually help sufferers becuase it works naturally and addresses the core problem that the lack of light causes. Light not only suppresses the winter, withdrawal hormones, but it produces active mood hormones and resets the sleep/wake cycle.
It might be a bit ‘out there’ for some people but I know I’d be giving it a try if I lived somewhere that didn’t get much sun!