How To Overcome Autumn Fatigue?
What is “Autumn Fatigue” or “Seasonal affective disorder”? and How To Overcome It?
Although autumn can be a very beautiful and calm time, this period can also have hidden pitfalls. It’s getting colder, the days are getting shorter, and we are more exposed to viruses and diseases.
Due to all these factors our well-being and energy may decline which might end up ruining this beautiful autumn season.
The good news is that we can alleviate and positively influence the symptoms of changing seasons with a balanced diet, supplements, and lifestyle changes.
What is “Autumn Fatigue” or “Seasonal affective disorder”?
The autumn transition period is characterized by colds and viral illnesses, which are the result of a drop in the immune system due to colder weather and more viruses and infections circulating in the air.
At the same time, late autumn and the beginning of winter are marked by “Autumn Fatigue”, a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a very common problem worldwide. Experts estimate that the problem affects as many as 15% of the general population each year.
What are the symptoms of SAD?
The disorder affects individuals differently and can manifest through a variety of symptoms: the most common are:
a drop in energy and fatigue,
lethargy and demotivation,
a drop in the immune system,
and an increased likelihood of colds and viral illnesses.
Some may also experience symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Usually the symptoms don’t last very long and go away after the body has acclimated to the change of seasons. But we can speed up this transition and make the symptoms less severe and make them last les time.
What can we do to alleviate SAD?
Sun exposure and Vitamin D
Through evolution, our body has become dependent on the sun, which plays an important role in both our circadian rhythm and biological and cellular processes in the body.
Sun regulates our day-night cycle and tells us when it is time to get up, when it’s time to have energy, working and be active and when it is time to wind down, relax and sleep.
Reduced sun exposure due to shortened days can therefore cause irregularities in circadian rhythm, problems with energy, fatigue, loss motivation, and sleep problems.
Our body uses solar energy to produce vitamin D, which has many biological functions and is essential for our health. Some research estimates that nearly 80% of the population is deficient in vitamin D during the colder parts of the year.
We can positively impact vitamin D deficiency in several ways:
With more sun exposure: although this is much harder in the fall and winter due to shorter days, less strong sunbeams, the angle at which the sun shines on our skin, less strong sun and less skin exposure due to long sleeves.
By eating foods that contain vitamin D: e.g. fatty fish, shellfish and seafood, egg yolks, grass-fed beef.
By adding vitamin D in the form of a dietary supplement.
Which vitamin D supplement should you take?
We distinguish between two forms of vitamin D: vitamin D2 and D3.
Dietary supplements and products labeled with vitamin D contain form D2, which comes mostly from plant foods. The D3 form is of animal origin: studies show that D3 is a slightly better form, as it creates more free vitamin D in the body, which is then better used. (source)
If you want to further improve the absorption of vitamin D in the body, choose a vitamin D3 supplement in combination with vitamin K2, which helps with better absorption and proper use of vitamin D in the body.
How much vitamin D should you take?
The recommended daily intake of vitamin D varies greatly.
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), which are the official dietary guidelines, have set the upper daily limit at 20 mcg (800 IU), which most agree is not enough.
The medical experts advices a maximum dose of 50 mcg (2,000 IU) per day, while other nutritionists and scientists advise a maintenance dose of 125 mcg (5,000 IU) over the winter, and up to 250 mcg (10,000 IU) for severe deficiencies and during certain diseases (eg Covid-19), which is a much higher dose than many supplements on the market.
It’s best to choose a product that contains at least 50 mcg (2,000 IU) of vitamin D per dose.
For maintenance purposes, one dose (50 mcg or 2,000 IU) per day is sufficient, and in times of deficiency, fatigue or illness, you can increase the dose to 250 mcg (10,000 IU) per day for a short time.
When should you take vitamin D?
Vitamin D is best to take in the morning, as vitamin D mimics the sun and gives energy: if you take it too late in the afternoon, it’s likely that you will not be able to sleep at night since your body will think and behave as if it were still daytime.
Because vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it should be taken with a meal that contains some fat, because otherwise it will not be absorbed properly.
B vitamins are the main vitamins responsible for the production of energy in the body — for both physical and mental energy.
They are water-soluble vitamins, which means that the body cannot store them, such as vitamin D. During the transition period, B vitamins in the body are consumed even faster due to additional stress, and deficiency of B vitamins in the body can cause fatigue, skin problems, and general poorer well-being.
We can provide the body with enough B vitamins:
with a balanced diet: the best sources of B vitamins are organs, red meat, dairy products and green leafy vegetables,
with a good dietary supplement: a good B complex that has a high concentration of all eight B vitamins.
Vitamin C is a very important vitamin for our body, as it plays a key role in energy production, in overcoming stress and regulating the immune system.
Due to changes in wheather and season, more viral infections and dip in immune function we need more of vitamin C in the transition periods.
Fun fact: Many mammals have their own production of vitamin C in the body: in case of illness or increased stress, they can produce a large amount of vitamin C, which helps them prevent the development of disease. We humans have unfortunately lost this ability through evolution and we require it orally — either through food or supplementation.
Although official guidelines advise that the daily intake of vitamin C for adults should not exceed 2,000 mg, some studies prove that megadosing of vitamin C (between 3,000 and 8,000 mg per day) is not only safe but it also helps with illness and stress relief.
For better results, choose a liposomal form of vitamin C, which is released much more slowly than regular vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and our body can absorb it and use it much better.
Amino acid Tyrosine
Tyrosine is one of the 22 amino acids and it’s found mostly in high protein foods (meat, eggs, dairy products, some seeds and nuts) and is very important for our body.
Tyrosine is involved in the production of adrenaline and norepinephrine. and it’s also the precursor of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that promotes focus and motivation, as well as well-being and energy.
Tyrosine deficiency can manifest as flu symptoms, lack of energy, and low mood.
Adding tyrosine in the form of a dietary supplement can help lift your mood, increase energy, reduce stress, and increase concentration and mental energy. If you suffer from some of the symptoms described above, take 1–2g of l-tyrosine twice a day — in the morning and in the afternoon.
Adaptogens are plant extracts that help the body adapt — because of this the name adaptogens — to changes and increased stress resulting from stimuli from the environment — including changing of the seasons.
Although most adaptogens share the same basis — stress relief, strengthening of the immune system, improving the mood — each extract has its own specific functions. The most popular and known adaptogens are ashwagandha and ginseng.
Ashwagandha — also known as Indian winter cherry — is considered one of the most important Ayurvedic herbs. I’ve noticed that in the last year it has gained a lot of popularity among both young people and the general population.
Ashwagandha has a beneficial effect in reducing stress in the body, it helps regulate hormones, increases physical strength, and can also be a good support in healing some health problems.
Ginseng has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, and today the two most widespread versions are American and Siberian ginseng.
Ginseng is very popular with athletes as it increases strength, focus and improves physical performance.
Although ashwagandha and ginseng work on the same principle, the former has a more calming effect and the latter a more invigorating effect, similar to caffeine.
We have to realise and be aware of the fact that we cannot beat Mother Nature.
Evolutionarily, autumn and winter are periods in the year to calm down, rest, sleep and rejuvenate, so we need to adjust our lifestyle accordingly.
Slow down and feel the changing seasons.
Spend more time in nature and with people you care about.
Spend less time on social media.
Invest and work on yourself.
These are just a few of the strategies that will help you live this period in the best possible way.
If you are one of the people who are affected by the changing season, don’t worry: you’re not alone and things aren’t hopeless. Now you can take the matter into your own hands.