Fish Helps with Seasonal Affective Disorder
It is estimated that about 14% of the US population report feeling a little down and lethargic during the winter months, and an additional 6% suffer from the more acute Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Bellingham tops out the list of cities in the continental United States with populations of over 50,000 which get the least amount of sunlight, and we all know the Pacific Northwest winter can get a little gloomy. No one likes getting up when it’s dark and going to work, only to finish the work day and be in the dark… again. However, there are some interesting options out there to fight the winter blues. We can take some cues from another group of people who seem to be doing quite well, despite living on the same parallel as even darker Alaska: the Icelanders.
In Iceland, the winter is even darker than our own and yet, the locals have little to no Seasonal Affective Disorder! Scientists and nutritionists who examined this phenomenon found that Icelanders have one highest per-capita fish consumption rates in the world. They eat, on average, more than four times as much fish as do Americans.
So what is in fish that helps prevent seasonal blues, or even SAD? Omega 3’s and vitamin D! Omega 3 fats have a critical role in brain health and documented effects on mood stabilization and anti-depression.
Omega 3’s are found in “fatty fish” such as salmon, trout, herring, and sardines. 3 ounces of Salmon per day provides a day’s worth of essential fat! Other seafoods, such as shrimp and tuna also have good fats and some nutritionists recommend at least two seafood meals per week.
In addition to being an excellent source of Omega 3’s, fish are also the top food source for vitamin D, which our bodies are able to make when exposed to the sun. During dark winter months, we are not only seeing less of the sun, we’re also more often indoors, so opportunities for our bodies to create vitamin D are reduced.
After several weeks of this, we will have depleted the stores of vitamin D, and our mood may be affected! This is where fish can some to the rescue yet again—the 3 ounce piece of salmon we mentioned earlier? It also provides your full daily value of vitamin D.
So we hope that you’ll all be sure to get out and get some exercise, make sure you catch some sun rays, and of course, eat your fish!