It is the autumn or March equinox here in New Zealand and conversely the spring equinox in the Northern hemisphere. During the equinox, the tilt of the Earth's axis with respect to the sun is exactly 0. Daylight and nighttime hours are now almost equal. It is a time of balance and good reminder to take stock of where you find yourself at this point in time. Autumn is an important part of nature - it's time to prepare for the winding down phase of the year. This does not always reflect in our real lives - we don't usually tend to wind down over winter but nevertheless, your body probably does. This might not be obvious but I think everyone has their own clues about when autumn starts to prepare you for winter. It could be the little sighs you have when it's getting darker earlier, or the little bits of apprehension one gets when the weather turns cooler.
Take your cue and listen to nature. Prepare yourself to wind down a bit mentally, slow down physically. Take stock. Check if you are doing ok. How is your health? How are the stress levels? Do you need to schedule in some time to relax? Do you know that winter might make you feel a bit down? Does lack of sunshine affect you? Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is associated with reduced access to sunshine and in particular, vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiency is common in New Zealand and indeed, around the world. We used to think that just spending 15 minutes in the sun, was enough time for us to maintain vitamin D levels. This alone, does not explain why so many New Zealanders experience vitamin D deficiency - we are an outdoor-loving people. Vitamin D regulates expression of over 2000 human genes. It helps regulate calcium, phosphorous and bone turnover. It supports the immune system by regulating inflammation and acts as a hormone which is involved in insulin secretion, controlling the metabolism and modulating excess cell proliferation.
But like in nature, vitamins don't work in isolation - they need the synergy of other vitamins and minerals to function at their best. One of these includes magnesium. Magnesium is needed to support the utilisation of vitamin D. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include tense and sore muscles, headaches, migraines, irritability, constipation, high blood pressure and struggling to sleep. Foods high in magnesium include leafy green vegetables, nuts, legumes, avocado, corn, garlic, blackberries, cabbage, grapes, pineapple and mushrooms.
So now is the time to reflect, enjoy some sunshine and make sure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals in your diet - eat well. 🌞🥬🥑🍇🍎🥦
Photo by Avelino Calvar Martinez
Samira Manners - registered naturopath, medical herbalist and nutritionist.