Washington's lack of sunshine is linked to depression.washington-flag

I had overheard someone the other week in Hawaii mentioning that they suffer from depression, and in an attempt to get rid of their depression, they was planning on moving to Washington state in the autumn, mainly because they have friends there. I was thinking to myself "you've got to be kidding."

A lack of vitamin D3 sulfate levels from the sun is one of the leading causes of depression. If you're suffering from depression in Hawaii where you can optimize your vitamin D3 sulfate levels throughout the year, wouldn't you be more depressed if you moved to a location that lacks sunshine?

"The Northwest's dreary winters are infamous for inducing depression," the Seattle Times warned. "Experts say vitamin D deficiency is much more common than previously believed — especially in northern climes like Washington, where solar radiation from October to March is too puny to maintain healthy levels."[1]

Let's take a look at a chart comparing Honolulu, Hawaii's sunshine hours to Seattle, Washington's sunshine hours:

Hours of
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
Honolulu 227 202 250 255 276 280 293 290 279 257 221 211 3,041
Seattle 74 99 154 201 247 234 304 248 197 122 77 62 2,019

So not only is the solar radiation poor in Washington from October to March, but residents in that state has less access to direct sunshine, making it impossible for some people to optimize their vitamin D3 sulfate levels during those months.

Some people thinks that direct sun exposure to their face and hands is all that's needed to optimize their vitamin D3 sulfate levels, but it turns out, that's scientifically false for most people.

"A common myth is that occasional exposure of the face and hands to sunlight is 'sufficient' for vitamin D nutrition. For most of us, this is an absolutely inadequate exposure to move vitamin levels to the healthy range of 45-55 ng/ml. For optimal benefit, strive to have at least 40 percent of your skin uncovered," Dr. Mercola informed.[2]

Unfortunately for Washington residents, it's too cold to safely expose 40 percent of their skin for most the year. Let's take a look at the average highs for Honolulu and Seattle:

Average High in °F
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Honolulu 80 80 81 82 85 87 88 89 89 87 84 81
Seattle 47 50 54 56 65 70 76 76 71 60 51 46

From my understanding, you need to expose both of your arms and legs to optimize your vitamin D3 sulfate levels. If you walk around in a short sleeved shirt and short shorts in cold weather, you risk weakening your immune system, that could lead to serious health issues such as hypothermia and an increased risk of catching the flu.

In my opinion, moving to another location just because you have friends there is a flawed way of improving your life. Before you move to another location, wouldn't it be wise to research the potential health hazards in that location, to find out if those hazards could conflict with your personal health?


  1. SeattleTimes.com | Does our lack of sun put your health in danger? | Sandi Doughton | February 13, 2008

  2. Mercola.com | Vitamin D in Your Skin | Dr. Mercola | March 15, 2008


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