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By Tracy Shields - Here are a few tips to make life a little brighter…
Call me crazy, but while all my late-night party friends are celebrating a win for that extra hour, I’m bemoaning the loss of daylight—at least in the late afternoon when I seem to want it the most. For most of us, there is a real and present feeling of loss that accompanies extra-hours darkness. And it seems to be the consensus—at least among individuals who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD)—that less sunlight causes depression.
- Get your sunlight in the morning: According to Alfred Lewy, MD, a seasonal-affective-disorder researcher at the Oregon Health & Science University, "The most important time to get light is in the morning"1 when your circadian rhythms can be reset. When you wake up in the early morning, it’s your instinct to keep sleeping through the darkness. When we get a dose of sunlight, however, our circadian clock resets and knows it’s time to get up.
- Rest more: Winter blues come with or without a lack of sunlight. Depressing but true, most suicides happen in the spring and summer months, not the winter! But winter used to be a time of limited activity for which we may still be predisposed. In our million-year history as humans, there’s less work to be done in the winter. Back when we were hunters and gatherers, there was less hunting and gathering with the onset of frozen snow-covered ground and animal hibernation. This meant that whole tribes would hunker down from late December to March, subsisting off the foods they had squirreled away all summer and fall. In fact, in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, he discusses that almost all the accounts of hard labor from the Middle Ages were written between early spring and late fall. In the winter months, there was virtually no activity.2 This would also explain why contemporary cultures in and around the Arctic Circle don’t experience seasonal affective disorder. They are more in tune with nature and respond accordingly, whereas typical Western culture is to keep working in offices during these cold, dark months. That’s not to say do nothing! Staying active is still of vital importance. But getting a little extra rest and down time might be good for the soul.
- Make your daylight hours count: Depending on what part of the northern hemisphere you reside, you could have anywhere from 10 hours of daylight (in Florida or North Africa), to 9 hours (in New York City) or as little as 4.5 hours (in northern Canada, Norway or Alaska). Whatever you’ve got, the quality of those hours needs to count. Exercise, reading, getting together with friends, seeing value in your work and participating in meaningful activities have all been shown to improve mood. In Norway, in fact, Norwegians really enjoy the dark season, and the rate of seasonal affective disorder is very low.3 You would think that it would be higher with less light, but it’s not. That leads many researchers to believe that SAD might best be controlled by perception, attitude and preparedness.
- Get fresh air: Fresh air is a known healer. We indoor people hate to hear it, but fresh air has a gazillion benefits. According to an article in the Cleveland Examiner, fresh air in winter helps to “strengthen your heart… balances hormones, promotes weight loss, helps reset circadian rhythms… helps to destress… and improves overall mood.”4
- Take the right supplements: Vitamins A, B6, B12, D3 and omega-3s (EPA and DHA) have all been shown to elevate mood. Omega-3s in particular are extremely popular in Arctic countries like Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland, where fish and fish oil is taken daily through the dark months to help fight depression.
Dealing with less light is a challenge, but it’s not impossible to manage. And remember, after December 21st (the shortest day of the year) the days grow longer. If that isn’t good enough, there’s always a quick trip to Cancun!
Just because a product costs more money doesn’t always mean that it is more expensive. For example, some products cost more but the number of units may be greater: i.e., 500 paper plates for $3 is a better value than 50 paper plates for $1. I reviewed a name-brand omega-3 supplement that I will refer to as Brand X so as not to mention any names.
Brand X Krill Oil
One capsule of Brand X contains:
300 milligrams of krill oil
90 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids
50 milligrams of EPA
24 milligrams of DHA
I also decided to review Res-Q 1250, a popular omega-3 supplement that is marketed for cardiovascular health and cholesterol well-being.
One capsule of Res-Q 1250 provides:
1250 milligrams of omega-3 oil (anchovy, sardine, mackerel)
750-850 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids
390-425 milligrams of EPA
300-325 milligrams of DHA
Heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) are found predominantly in marine (sea) life: fish, krill, phytoplankton or calamari (squid). I would have to take 12½ capsules of Brand X’s krill oil to equal the amount of DHA in one Res-Q 1250 capsule. DHA benefits the heart, brain and eyes, while EPA reduces inflammation, inhibits cholesterol synthesis and encourages a healthy cardiovascular system.
The bottle of Res-Q 1250 contains 200 capsules whereas Brand X only provides 60. Res-Q 1250 costs $56; Brand X krill oil costs $32.98. In other words, the unit price of a Brand X capsule is 54 cents ($32.98/60).1 One Res-Q 1250 capsule costs 28 cents ($56/200). Therefore, Res-Q is the least expensive of the two supplements; it’s the best buy.
N3 Oceanic, maker of the Res-Q product line, always offers price discounts or promotional offers. Prior to placing your first order, have a product consultation with one of our Res-Q consultants. Call the customer service department at 1-800-262-5483 (26-ALIVE). Res-Q consultants are not only knowledgeable but can offer you a reduced price, special discounts or free shipping.
1 current retail price as of 01/17/13
Fats play an important role in our health, especially the good ones! The three basic types of fats are monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated. The omega-3 and omega-6 fats are polyunsaturated.
The omega-6 fatty acid (linoleic acid) is plentiful in both nature and diet but this is not the case with omega-3. Walnuts, flaxseed and spinach are a poor source of heart-healthy omega-3 because these foods don’t provide any of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, also known as EPA and DHA.
The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, a unit of the University of Southern Mississippi‘s College of Science and Technology, refers to this dietary fat balance as having “resulted in an overwhelming surplus of omega-6 fatty acids and a deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids.” They estimate the balance of polyunsaturated fats in the Western diet as having at least 20 times more omega-6 then it should. This dietary imbalance is thought to contribute to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other inflammatory diseases.
Fast food, including such processed foods like cakes, crackers, pies and all deep-fried foods, are one reason why there is too much omega-6 in the diet. Omega-6 oils (vegetable, corn, soybean, sesame, safflower, sunflower and cottonseed oils) provide the texture and taste that Americans enjoy. However, the typical American diet is causing a dietary fat imbalance.
Omega-3 is needed by every cell in the body! As the number of double bonds increases, so does fluidity, so highly unsaturated, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are essential for healthy, flexible cells.
Only certain types of fish provide a significant source of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. The healthiest fish are extremely expensive, which limits how often they are consumed. The long-chain omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are found predominantly in marine life: fish, calamari, seafood and algae. EPA and DHA reduce inflammation and improve cardiovascular health.
The Fats Handbook explains it best: “The omega-3-produced eicosanoids elicit anti-inflammatory responses while omega-6 eicosanoids elicit inflammatory responses. When the diet contains high concentrations of omega-6 fatty acids, cell membranes have high concentrations of omega-6, and the highly potent eicosanoids that are produced by the omega-6 precursor, arachidonic acid, are released.”
You need to supplement the diet with fish oil to help restore the dietary balance of fats to the optimal ratio. Fish oils contain the long-chain omega-3 EPA and DHA, but not all fish oils are equal!
Some fish oils are not concentrated. Don’t be fooled by the word concentrate like “fish-oil concentrate.” Look for EPA and DHA on the label. Also, it is important to make sure it is only a pure, omega-3 supplement; we get enough omega-6 in the diet!
Res-Q 1250 is a great brand! It is a highly concentrated EPA/DHA supplement that promotes optimal cardiovascular health and helps to reduce inflammation. It is something that everyone needs. Since Res-Q 1250 is at least twice as potent as most fish oils, it represents an exceptional savings.
To contact us by telephone, call 1-800-262-5483.