#17 vitamin boost

017/365 vitamin boost, originally uploaded by rosipaw.

A dreary dreary day. No proper light outside for interesting photo opportunities. I just counted that it’s 8 days since we last saw even a glimpse of the sun! Winter blues is hitting us hard, let alone a need for extra vitamins in our diet. That’s why, we prepared this scrumptious fruit salad for desert today. How we envy all of you who live in climates that offer fresh produce all year round! Well, at least we have the imported fruit and vegetables, although there is the downside of the long transports being an extra burden for the environment. We do have our freezer stacked with Finnish berries from last summer, but it is a far cry from the lovely, fresh ones that our market place abounds with in the summer months.

Interestingly, last week I read about some new Finnish research, in which they have found clear evidence that a long exposure to the cold and darkness lowers not only our mood, but also our intellectual and mental capacities. It’s to do with the combined effects on two hormones – melatonin, the so-called darkness hormone, and the thyroid hormone. The levels of melatonin in our body rise when there is no sunlight to prevent it. At the same time, thyroid hormone levels fall, and in the end our body gets tired of fighting this disorder, which leads to diminished mental agility. No wonder, I have started to feel really sluggish as of late. Some days I find it almost impossible to get up to go to work. Most of my colleagues complain about the same, and even students seem to be more apathetic than usual.

I have often suggested that we should have a different school schedule for the dark period. Start school at 9 or 10, instead of the customary 8 am. According to our administration this would be impossible, though, because of so many others factors involved, eg. working hours of kitchen and cleaning staff. I think it’s just excuses and not really being brave enough to change an age-old custom. In the meantime, both going to work and coming home in darkness for months continues to be a real pain.

2 Responses to “#17 vitamin boost”

  1. January 19, 2010 at 00:12

    Such an interesting post. At first glance, I wondered where you would get this kind of fruit. We import some fruit out of season but not much, and so in Winter we don’t have the Summer fruits, and if some of these are sold, the prices are too high. I can see why it would be important to have these fruits for the vitamins. I keep telling my boys to eat all the fruit I buy – mangoes, apricots, grapes, cherries, kiwi fruits, strawberries, (ocassionally raspberries – too expensive – but they don’t. I remember always loving Summer fruits when I was a child, and even now.

    Interesting to read your research into the mental and emotional effects of the dark and cold weather. I’m not suprised, although I wonder how anyone functions at school and work during this period. A 9 am start would be much better. Do your schools provide hot meals for students? Our students bring their own lunch or buy something at the canteen. It’s more like takeaway.

    Hope you manage to deal with Winter!

  2. 2 sinikka
    January 19, 2010 at 19:53

    We have no choice but to manage the best we can. But people do tend to complain a lot – as you have already seen from me. As there is nothing to do about this, it would surely be much better to stop whining and just focus on other, more positive things in life.

    Yes, our schools provide a hot meal in the middle of the school day – all free of charge, paid by the local government. The kitchen ladies really work miracle on an extremely low budget.

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