Have you ever felt SAD in Estonia? I’m sure you did, but my SAD feeling has nothing to do with the sadness after failing an exam or having an unsuccessful date. The SAD that I do have in mind is actually Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is also known as a “winter depression”. It makes us feel moody and in absence of energy. A person with SAD can feel good during spring and summer time, but then they experience the slight downturn in mood as winter approaches. Most of us have probably gone through that, but we never dared to give it a proper name.
Potential victims in Estonia
According to scientists, a chronic lack of the sun can lead to general poor health and various types of depression, among which is above mentioned SAD. If an organism lacks the sun exposure, a person’s serotonin level can substantially lower. Having in mind that most of the time there is no sun in the Northern hemisphere, people living in Tartu should be asking themselves the scary question: Am I a potential victim of SAD?
The way to prevent this from happening is to enjoy the sun as more as possible, because it has positive impacts on our health in general. First of all, the sunlight is good in fighting stress, because it relieves anxiety and reduces depression. Second, it increases the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin, which helps us feel calm and focused. Last but not the least, it improves our mood and helps us to feel good even when there is no special reason for it.
D stands for the “sun”
Regardless of the country, in average humans spend less time in the sun today than ever before – that is why more than 1 billion people worldwide are vitamin D deficient. The sun exposure is the most effective and cheapest way to get the necessary amount of vitamin D. What is more, you do not need to sit hours and hours on the sun, but exposing your skin for a short time will make all the vitamin D your body can produce in one day. The closer you live to the equator, the easier is for your body to produce vitamin D all year round.
Vitamin D refers to several different forms of this vitamin, but vitamin D2 and D3 are the most important for humans. Vitamin D2 is made by plants, and vitamin D3 is made by human skin when exposed to sunlight. Food may be fortified with both vitamin D2 and D3. Humans make 90 percent of their vitamin D naturally from sunlight exposure to their skin. Vitamin D helps body absorb calcium and phosphorus, which then maintains strong bones, it stimulates our memory, neuromuscular and immune function, enhances mood and energy through the release of endorphins, suppresses the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), protects against melanomas, and treats skin diseases such as psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, etc.
Buying a piece of the sun
In case we are not born under a lucky star and do not have enough sunlight throughout the year, do not despair, there is always an alternative – taking vitamin D supplements. By living on the North, that is exactly what all of us have to consider doing. Personally, I find it hard to come to terms with that option, as I never thought that in Estonia I would have to pay for something I have for free at home. Nor have I ever thought that I might not have a substantial amount of vitamin D.
To make your life easier, I have done a little research in Tartu in order to find out where you can buy vitamin D supplements and what the best way to do it is. There are many pharmacies in Tartu, and surely you will find one close to your home. The prices of vitamin D supplements are pretty much the same in all pharmacies. There are several vitamin D products with different amount of capsules: the number of capsules varies depending on the package. The package with 120 capsules costs around €15. The one with 100 capsules cost around €10, and the vitamin D supplement with 90 capsules can be bought for €9. Instead of the package with capsules, you can as well buy the vitamin D in liquid form.
There is no significant difference between various producers of vitamin D supplements and it is completely up to you which package of vitamin D supplements you will choose. Besides that, there are smaller packages of vitamin D supplements for children. According to the pharmacists, you should take one capsule or drop (if it is in liquid form) per day. The best is to take it daily with food. If you have already been diagnosed with severe lack of vitamin D, then it is the best to consult with your doctor on the quantity of capsules before you start taking it.
Discovering Cultural Effects
Maybe the sun and its vitamin D effect can be the answer to my doubt why Southern and Northern people are so different in character. Not only have I noticed that people are different in the North and South of Europe, but the differences between the North and the South are seen within the particular country, too. As for my country, I can say that there are distinctive differences between Northern (continental) and Southern (coastal) people. Northern people are more hard-working, realistic, and plain-speaking. while people in the South tend to be more flexible, relaxed, warm-welcoming, and lazy. I would not definitely want for my beloved Croatian people to be offended by above said, but it is true that the sun extremely affects our mood and behaviour, especially if we are used to it throughout the year. Spanish, Italians, Portuguese, Greeks are really easy going, they love the Mediterranean sea and the sun, which makes them more open and sociable, helps them enjoy the life to the fullest.
All in all, you could have read which positive and negative effects the sunlight has on human body. What we have to bear in mind is that the natural sunlight is a free and worldwide available mood enhancer. Next time the sun appears over the horizon, think of all the ways you can enjoy it out in the open. Be sure that you have provided your body with enough vitamin D and remember ‒ the best things in life are for free!