gray skies of winter

Winter Blues | Steel Gray Skies | Low Vitamin D

Winter. It can depressing. For some. Ever heard of low vitamin D?

Why? Because there’s not as much sunlight. In some regions, it’s much worse than others. The lack of sunlight affects us.

December 21 (solstice) is typically the day with the fewest hours of sunlight in the northern hemisphere. The months approaching it, and the months following are majority filled with darkness rather than sunlight.

Where I live, during the shortest day of the year, sunrise is 7:18 AM and sunset is 4:09 PM according to That’s only about 8 hours of sunlight with 16 hours of darkness!

Wait, it gets worse… some regions tend to be cloudy a-lot. I live in a mountainous region. Climate conditions often produce clouds, especially during the winter months. And how about the Pacific Northwest? Lots of gray skies, right?

During the seemingly rare days during winter when the sun comes out, it feels wonderful! Why is that?

There’s something about sunlight that our bodies crave. Need.

One thing I know, is sunlight on our skin produces Vitamin D. And I’ve read many reports that indicate most Americans, especially those living in the north – and during winter – are lacking (and severely lacking) in Vitamin D. Surprised? Not me…

Here’s an interesting resource:
Harvard School Of Public Health | Vitamin D

I’ve also read that Mayo Clinic estimates 25%-50% of the general population may be vitamin D deficient.


Symptoms of a dreary winter with its skies often looking like a flat gray sheet of metal, can be sad. Actually, “they” do have a name for that… Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Yes I know — they have a disorder for everything. But you instinctively know this one is true.

Some people fall into a general depression. Anxiety. Sadness. It depends…

What can you do about the winter blues?

I’m not a doctor or a psychiatrist. However I can offer some sensible advice.

Get Outside When It’s Sunny

When the sun does come out, and there’s actually a mostly blue sky day, take advantage of it! GO OUTSIDE! Let your face and body absorb those wonderful rays of sunshine. It WILL lift your spirits.

While at work, get outside for a bit during your lunch break. Take a walk.

Open all the shades and curtains. Let that sun in.

Vitamin D Supplement

Another thing you can do, and my own doctor recommended it (my Vitamin D levels were on the low side), is take a Vitamin D supplement.

I’m taking a 2,000 IU Vitamin D3 softgel tablet twice a day during the winter.

NatureWise Vitamin D3
(view on amzn)

2,000 IU vitamin D3

“The Vitamin D Council recommends that adults with minimal sun exposure take 5,000 IU of D3 daily to reach optimal levels. This recommendation is based on research that shows that 97% of people will attain levels above 30 ng/ml at this dose, without risk of toxicity.”

~ naturewise vitamins

5,000 IU tablets. One of the most popular and best reviewed is by Schwartz, made in the USA.
>> view on amzn

What’s the “3” in Vitamin D-3?

Vitamin D3 is the form of vitamin D that is synthesized by the skin when exposed to the sun ( ultraviolet light/UVB).

The Best Thing For Low Vitamin D

Go to Florida during the winter!!

Continue reading: Vitamin C – Fruits & Vegetables

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  1. There is another alternative…
    There is a product that is a light that simulates sunlight… Not as effective as good ol mother nature, but it helps.

  2. Ken
    What a timely article. I live in the PNW and it has rained for the last 5 days. Blah!
    I recently returned from Kauai. What a difference in the way I felt there compared to these gray skies.
    Was outside all day everyday just soaking it up.
    I totally agree about your body craving the sunshine. I felt better physically and mentally while there and then I come home to the gray skies and blah weather here. What a difference.
    I take a vitamin D with my calcium pills, but not as much as mentioned in the article. I’ll try upping the dose.
    Thanks again for the article.
    Only about 5 or 6 months until summer here. Lol

  3. Some of us prefer those slate-gray overcast days in the mountains! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a beautiful sunshine filled day. But I also enjoy the overcast cooler weather in the winter. We don’t get many days of cool in my part of Texas.

    1. I used to love the cold blue sky days in Co. high mountains, cold, snow on the ground, clear as a bell!
      Over here i love the winter months, sunny, cooler, just beautiful,

  4. Omega-3 EPA Mood is good for the winter blahs (2000mg omega-3 EPA/ day) . ANY time spent above ground – outside is good to keep the blues away, even the cloudy overcast days. There are times when the short days really will get to you. Remind yourself that the days are getting longer now. repeat the mantra, “Here comes the Sun! (do-do-do-do) Here comes the Sun! And I say, Its alright!”

      1. NRP,
        ya, my ‘day job’ is where are do all my singin’, waaay underground where no one can hear! LOL!

  5. What gits me down is all of da depressed people who invade my beloved Sunshine State this time of year. If it wasn’t fur them spend’n lots n lots of Yankee Money, well we might jus has to close de border with Georgia.

    Can’t y’all take a joke ?

    Seasonal Effective Disorder, = winter depression.

    1. P.S. It’s going to be -150 below and snowing here in this week, so best vacation in Minnesota or Wisconsin instead!

      1. Traffic from those darn quebecers! Stay in your own country… dang it! they clog up the roads down here confuse kmh for mph. Can’t speak proper Amerikin, Always lookin fir french bread and dem cheeze pies.

        1. White Cracker, (why is that so satisfying to type?)

          Every time I review the call center analytics report it seems my people are playing ‘hot potato’ with inbound Quebec area codes. Some of the callers are nice, but it’s rare. Most are outrageously arrogant and entitled. I had to have a chat with them. There is now an informal agreement to share equally in the Quebecois misery as it arrives. They take turns now.

  6. Over here in Germany about 70% of the people are Vitamin D deficient at the end of Winter, and while in Fall there are only about 40% Vitamin D deficient.
    One problem we have is that artificial light such as coming from LED lamps and computer screens tricks the human body into thinking that it got enough sunlight for the day which makes the drive to go outside to vanish, but that’s not the case. And since the skin needs UV rays to build large amounts of Vitamin D, sunscreen reduces the amount of Vitamin D generated by over 95%.

    1. Winter attire such as coats, gloves, and hats also cuts down on how much sunlight one absorbs. However, some is better than none, so you can get some from keeping your face uncovered.

  7. I try to accomplish something toward being prepared everyday.If I make a
    list and check off two or three items then it has been a good day.
    Here in the mountains winter has set in and it’s colder than Hillary’s heart.
    Just the work of staying warm and alive keeps us happy.There is no time
    for the blues.

  8. ..,..grumble, grumble….
    Where’s my d3?
    2 1/2 inches of rain, quarter inch of freezing rain and 8-12 inches of snow coming this weekend?

  9. I have to shake my head when people talk about needing sunshine. 15 minutes to half an hour in the sun (more in the winter) and I’m burned. When I go out during the summer I’m in long sleeves, long pants, and a brimmed hat.

    This would certainly explain (partially) why people at higher elevations have more depression. Why my family has a history of depression.

    I think I read somewhere that people in northern Europe adapted to less sunlight. Maybe it’s true.

  10. My dog its my inspiration to get off my rear and get outside.
    The sun is not out all the time and lack of sunlight in winter is an issue in the PNW.
    I would say for myself, getting enough exercise is the toughest area to address because it is easy for me to crawl in my warm cozy house and not work out much at all for this time of year.

    I remind myself that the days are getting longer at this time of year. Soon I will be out cutting my grass. As of late, I have been trimming my trees and cutting up the branches.

    1. Calirefugee,
      What would we do without our pups making us get up and go for a walk? When I lived in PNW I had a heck of a time with SAD, one of the reasons I eventually moved to the southern Rockies. Now Jake gets me out twice a day, every day, no matter the weather. Really helps. They truly are Man’s Best Friend.

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