These are dark days. Literally, when does the sun set now, like 4:30? Ugh. An estimated 36 million Americans suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, a.k.a. the Wintertime Blues. SAD can cause you to lose energy and interest, experience sleep disorders, have trouble focusing and concentrating and crave those holiday carbs. No wonder bears hibernate. Just wake us when it's over, right? But, alas, we have work to do and families to feed. Though some SAD is severe enough to warrant significant medical attention, one of the best ways to hedge off its effects is through prevention with Omega-3 fatty acids.
Though obesity is on the rise among Americans, many are actually deficient in healthy fats because of the shift in our diet away from whole, unprocessed foods. Depression rates have increased accordingly and interestingly, countries whose populations eat a large amount of Omega-rich fish, such as Iceland and Japan, have been noted to experience fewer incidents of SAD.
The two active ingredients of Omega-3 fatty acids are Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Though there have not been any major clinical trials to date, there is research indicating regular consumption of EPA-rich foods is critical in preventing or reversing minor to moderate depression. Doses of 1 to 2 grams are considered effective levels for SAD, and have worked in conjunction with some depression medications. It should be noted that individuals with bipolar or more serious cases of depression should not substitute or discontinue medication unless approved by their physician.
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Omega-3s are commonly found in fish and can also be found in vegan sources such as flax, hemp, olive oil, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and even leafy green vegetables. Dietary supplements can also be a convenient way to make sure you get the right dosage daily.
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