Easy Relief for Holiday Blues

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

December 12, 2011

In This Issue:

  • Why live with the blues even for a few months if you don’t have to?
  • A new use for a familiar mineral
  • The benefit of starting your New Year’s resolution NOW

Easy Relief for Holiday Blues

Between the decreased hours of sunlight and the stress of the holiday season, it’s no wonder that even the most chipper among us wrestles with a case of the blues during this last month of the year. If you’re not prone to depression during the rest of the year, maybe you’ve told yourself it’s not a big deal…you can just tough it out.

And you probably can. But maybe, this year, you don’t have to…

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Zinc has gotten a lot of attention – and a lot of shelf space in your local drug store – for its role in supporting the immune system. But you might not be aware that studies have also linked zinc to depression and stress.

In one study, patients taking pharmaceutical anti-depressants also took 25mg of zinc, and reported an increase in overall effectiveness compared to the pharmaceutical alone. There has also been a correlation made in studies between low blood levels of zinc and depression or stress-related disorders.

Given the direction of these studies, it’s worth adding additional zinc to both your diet and your supplement regimen during times when stress is high and the blues have come for a visit.

The usual requirement for zinc is 15mg a day. Try increasing that to 25mg for the next couple of months, until spring.

You can also add more zinc-rich foods to your diet. It shouldn’t be that hard to do during the holidays, given the list of possibilities:

  • Oysters
  • Beef
  • Turkey
  • Crab
  • Lamb
  • Duck
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Baked Beans
  • Garbanzo Beans

Also, alcohol consumption can decrease your levels of zinc – another reason to increase your intake during the holidays if your alcohol consumption is higher than normal. If you are taking antibiotics, penicillin or any kind of diuretic, you should discuss zinc supplementation with your doctor first.

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A safe and accurate way to decide your dosage would be to get your blood levels of zinc checked. Too much zinc can be toxic, so paying attention to how much you are already getting if you are currently taking supplements is the place to start. You will likely experience an upset stomach well before you hit toxic levels, however.

One final interesting note about zinc – it has an important role in manufacturing hormones, particularly testosterone. And oysters are top on the list of zinc-containing foods. Given their well-known reputation as an aphrodisiac food, as well…it might not take a scientific study to figure out another cause for zinc’s mood-lifting quality!

One last thing…

Start New Year’s NOW

One of the most predictable parts of the holiday season is the annual binge in eating and drinking, followed by desperate New Year’s resolutions to get back in shape…which usually don’t last much past Valentine’s Day.

When our bodies are younger, we can sustain this kind of cycle fairly well.

But eventually, it takes its toll. Extra pounds that don’t come off so easily. Interrupted sleep cycles that can cause depression. And a break in exercise and other routines that can wreak havoc with your energy levels.

Yes, we all know that enjoying the holidays in moderation is the prudent thing to do. As a doctor, I recommend it all the time. But I’m well aware that it’s not quite as much fun.

This year, why not start your New Year’s resolution a month early. Join a gym if you aren’t already a member…and go this time. (Hint: Working out with a friend will make it much easier for both of you to keep your commitment).Sign up or drop in for an exercise class. Rent a season of your favorite television series and watch it while riding your stationary exercise bike.

By infusing the holiday season of celebration with the New Year’s season of increased physical activity, you might be able to have as much fun as you want, without suffering as much of the hangover later.

References:

Biol Trace Elem Res. 2011 Sep 20. Dietary Intake of Zinc was Inversely Associated with Depression., Yary T, Aazami S.

J Affect Disord. 2011 Jul 26. The efficacy of zinc supplementation in depression: Systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Lai J, Moxey A, Nowak G, Vashum K, Bailey K, McEvoy M.

Pol. J. Pharmacol., 2003. Effect of Zinc Supplementation on Antidepressant Therapy in Unipolar Depression: A Preliminary Placebo-Controlled Study. Nowak G, Siwek M, Dudek D, Ziebar A, Pilc A.

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