The Impact Of Sunlight On Vitamin D Status
Assessment of vitamin D status will need consideration of other factors, such as light therapy and sun exposure. Exposure to sunlight accounts for over 90% of the vitamin D requirement for most individuals . Amount of exposure to ultraviolet B radiation is affected by latitude, season, and time of the day. It has been reported that sun exposure is greatest in spring to early fall and during sunlight hours . Although places closer to the equator have greater sun exposure , recently it has been reported that in even in these areas vitamin D insufficiency persists . Since it is possible that persons who are outdoors may be more physically active, it is important to consider whether sunshine alone or in combination with physical activity is related to improved mood.
Mind, a charity group in the United Kingdom, has recommend Ecotherapy as a treatment to depression. Ecotherapy involves exercising outdoors instead of inside a facility. A research study was done with 20 people each walked outside and at an indoor shopping center . Participants then rated their feelings of self-esteem, depression, and tension after both walks. Improvements were greater when walking outdoors as compared to walking indoors . Lack of information regarding specific measurements and methods used for data collection are significant limitations of this report.
Can Vitamin D Deficiency Cause Depression
Although there is an apparent link between low vitamin D and depression, it is unclear whether one causes the other.
If vitamin D deficiency alone were responsible, theoretically, supplementation would help. However, research has proven this is not the case. In fact, multiple studies have found vitamin D supplements ineffective in the treatment of depression.
One example is a 2019 randomized controlled trial investigating vitamin D for depression in 155 seniors. The participants were aged 6080, had clinically relevant depression symptoms, functional impairments, and low vitamin D. They took 1200IU of vitamin D3 or a placebo daily for a year. The results showed those who took the supplement had increased vitamin D levels by the end of the study. However, there were no remarkable differences between the groups in terms of depressive symptoms or functionality.
Vitamin D And Depression
Depression is a medical condition that changes the thoughts, feelings, or behaviors of an individual. Symptoms include:
- Loss of interest in activities the individual previously liked
- Isolation and withdrawal
What Research Shows
Studies on vitamin D supplementation and depression show a relationship between the two.
The only limitation of the studies is that they donât prove that vitamin D deficiency causes depression. People with depression may have lower vitamin D levels, but the deficiency did not cause the illness.
How Vitamin D Deficiency is Linked to Depression
If the cause of depression was a lack of the vitamin, then supplementation would help reduce the signs and symptoms. An increase in the levels of the vitamin would also prevent depression from occurring, but this is not the case.
There is another possible explanation of the correlation between vitamin D deficiency and depression. Many groups at a high risk of depression are also likely to have vitamin D deficiency.
Adolescents, people with obesity, the elderly, and those with chronic illnesses are the most prone to having vitamin D deficiency. They are also at a higher risk of depression.
Possible Causes for This Correlation
As noted above, some symptoms of clinical depression include withdrawal and social isolation. Since these individuals spend less time outside, they lack the much-needed exposure to process enough vitamin D.
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Being Sick Or Getting Infections Often
One of vitamin Ds most important roles is keeping your immune system strong so youre able to fight viruses and bacteria that cause illness.
It directly interacts with the cells that are responsible for fighting infection .
Several large observational studies have shown a link between a deficiency and respiratory tract infections such as colds, bronchitis, and pneumonia .
A number of studies have found that taking vitamin D supplements at a dosage of up to 4,000 IU daily may reduce your risk of developing a respiratory tract infection .
Vitamin D plays important roles in immune function. One of the most common symptoms of a deficiency is an increased risk of illness or infections.
The Link Between A Vitamin D Deficiency And Anxiety
Multiple studies illuminate the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and anxiety. The Journal of Diabetes research conducted a study to see if supplements could improve mental health and type 2 diabetes. Forty-six women participated in the study for six months and completed a survey about their mental health. The study found that taking vitamin D supplements significantly decreased anxiety levels in women suffering from type 2 diabetes.
Another study found that those suffering from anxiety had lower levels of calcidiol. Broken down vitamin D produces the byproduct, calcidiol. The study notes that low levels of vitamin D are thought to increase the chances of depression, diabetes, and cancer. The study also notes that literature from thousands of years ago hints at the link between vitamin D deficiency and anxiety. An ancient text writes about poor mental health after lack of sun exposure.
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Does Vitamin D Help With Sad
Medical professionals often prescribe vitamin D to help with seasonal affective disorder . Studies show that it might be as effective as light therapy. Since the 1980s, light therapy is one of the main forms of treatment for this type of depression. People with SAD typically have a vitamin D deficiency.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health , seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression that people get during certain seasons. They tend to get depressed during the fall from the winter months when there is less sunlight, but it can happen during spring and summer as well. This rarer kind of SAD is summer-pattern SAD or summer depression.
Other forms of treatment for SAD include:
- Difficulty making decisions
You Have Unstable Blood Sugar
You dont have to be diabetic to have a blood sugar problem. We help many of our patients here at Parsley Health pull the brakes on the rollercoaster of symptoms theyve been experiencing from spikes and dips in blood sugar.
Take a typical on-the-go breakfast for many people: a pastry and sugary coffee drink. That wave of sugar creates a rapid spike in your blood sugar and causes your pancreas to release insulin to stabilize it. As your blood sugar returns to normal, you crash, feeling tired. Youll also feel hungry again pretty quickly, leading you to reach for carbs and perpetuating the cycle.
All that sugar adds up. When people consumed 40g of added sugar a day in the form of a can of soda for three weeks, they showed at least a 60 percent increase in high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation. Inflammation has been associated with many chronic diseases, including depression. Learning to eat a combination of , protein, and healthy fat at each meal and never skipping a meal can help you maintain steady blood sugar throughout the day and tame inflammation.
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The Truth About Vitamin D
No doubt youve seen the headlines promoting the negative side effects of low vitamin D levels. Its important to read those stories carefully, since links dont necessarily prove cause and effect. There can be many other explanations for the associations observed, says JoAnn Manson, MD, PhD, chief of the division of preventive medicine at Brigham and Womens Hospital in Massachusetts.
That said, not getting enough vitamin D can lead to negative health consequences. The good news? Its relatively easy to get enough vitamin D. Certain foods, including fatty fish, can help you increase your levels, as can sunlight. Specifically, 15 minutes of sunlight on your hands and face each day can do the trick, Donald Ford, MD, a family medicine doctor at Cleveland Clinic, previously told Health.
Here are 27 reasons you should consider spending more time outdoors if your doctor mentions that your vitamin D levels are low.
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How Much Vitamin D Do You Need
In healthy people, the amount of vitamin D needed per day varies by age. The chart below shows the often-cited recommendations of the Institute of Medicine, now the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. It is important to know that these are general recommendations. If your doctor is checking your blood levels, he or she might recommend higher or lower doses based on your individual needs.
If you have osteoporosis, your doctor might suggest a blood test of your vitamin D levels. The amount of vitamin D supplement can be customized for each person, based on the results. For many older patients, a vitamin D supplement containing anywhere between 800 to 2000 IUs daily, which can be obtained without a prescription, can be both safe and beneficial. It is important to speak with your doctor about your individual needs.
|People by age|
*refers to adequate intake vs recommended dietary allowance of the other age groups.
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You Drink Alcohol In Excess
You might think happy hour is the ultimate way to unwind from your day, but the temporary effects of alcohol are just thattemporary. When you drink, alcohol increases dopamine, a feel-good chemical, and binds to and alters the neurotransmitter receptor GABA, which increases the effect of GABA and can have a calming effect in the moment. But it also interrupts other mood-regulating neurotransmitters, like serotonin. When these alcohol-induced effects wear off, you may experience a range of anxiety symptoms.
In the long term, excessive drinking makes neurons less excitable and permanently changes the mRNA and protein levels in GABA receptors. This makes the receptors less sensitive, so the brain needs more GABA. Without it, symptoms of anxiety can result. This doesnt necessarily mean you have to completely remove alcohol from your life, but take at least three nights off per week from drinking and always drink in moderation.
How To Get Enough Vitamin D
Clearly, vitamin D is an important vitamin, and inadequate levels can take effect on several systems throughout the body. The good news is, determining your vitamin D levels only takes a simple blood test called 25-hydroxyvitamin D. The measurement is nanograms per milliliter, and its generally recommended to keep your levels between 30 and 60 ng/ml.
Although you can find vitamin D in fatty fish, fortified orange juice and milk, sunlight is the strongest natural source for vitamin D. At a minimum, you need to spend about 15 minutes in the sun exposing the face, arms, and legs several times per week without sunscreen, since sunscreen limits vitamin D production.
Nevertheless, health experts recommend using sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more when youre out in the sun for more than a few minutes. So alternatively, those with low vitamin D levels may also choose to supplement vitamin D into their diet.
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Get Out In The Sunshine More
Most people can make enough vitamin D by simply being out in the sun every day for short periods of time with their hands, forearms or lower legs uncovered and without sun protection you dont have to go and sun it up in a bikini .
However, there is no definitive answer to how long you have to stay out in the sun for because everyone is different.
Skin colour and skin exposure play a big part in how much vitamin D your skin will absorb, e.g. people with dark skin such as those from an African, Caribbean or South Asian origin will need to spend longer exposed in the sun to produce the same amount of vitamin D as somebody with lighter skin.
You also need to make sure you dont burn in the sun, so make sure you always have sun protection and sunglasses handy for when it gets super sunny and you can feel your skin getting red or burnt.
Please seek shade if you plan to be out in the sun for a long time the longer you stay in the sun unprotected, the greater your risk of skin cancer is.
Your body cannot make vitamin D with sunlight that shines through a window the glass will block the ultraviolet B rays from getting to your skin.15
If you think you are at risk, seek advice from a medical professional or ask your Doctor for a blood test to assess your Vitamin D levels. With your Doctors support, start taking a quality vitamin D3 supplement to meet UK Government guidelines.
How To Supplements Vitamin D Safely
When supplementing with vitamin D, there are several other aspects to consider. First off, it is crucial to simultaneously take the right type of vitamin K, too, to escalate certain benefits. This is because experts now believe that vitamin D and K are especially important for a healthy heart and bones.
For example, when vitamin D stimulates increased absorption and retention of calcium, vitamin K performs the essential function of directing calcium where to go. It helps deposit calcium where it is needed, such as your bones and teeth, and keeps it away from undesirable places for calcium, such as the joints, blood vessels, and kidneys.
Vitamin K is also an important nutrient, essential to bone and heart health, including supporting healthy, flexible arteries and more. In fact, research shows that higher intakes of vitamin K have been associated with better heart, circulatory, and overall health, and well-being. Unfortunately, most people arent getting enough of this nutrient, eitherresearch shows only 1 in 3 people are consuming an adequate amount of vitamin K in their diets. 24,25,26
As for the right form of vitamin K, always look for vitamin K2, and more specifically, its most studied and effective forms of MK-4 and MK-7, which are very well-absorbed by the body, and research shows they can be very effective at increasing blood levels of K in the body.
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What About Vitamin D Deficiency And Anxiety
Anxiety can lead to a wide variety of symptoms, such as feeling tense or having a sense of panic as well as physical symptoms like rapid breathing and an increased heart rate, according to the Mayo Clinic.
There’s not a lot of research into a potential relationship between vitamin D and anxiety.
One study compared the amount of calcidiol in small groups of adults with depression, anxiety symptoms and a symptom-free control group. It found lower levels of calcidiol in the study participants with anxiety disorders than in the control group, according to the results published in Physiological Research in June 2015.
Taking vitamin D supplements was effective at improving anxiety symptoms in patients with depression and low vitamin D levels, according to a September 2020 study published in Brain and Behavior.
But as the study authors note, additional studies are needed in this area to validate these findings.
Alcohol Tobacco And Other Drugs
Misusing alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs can have both immediate and long-term health effects.
The misuse and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, and prescription medications affect the health and well-being of millions of Americans. SAMHSAs 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that approximately 19.3 million people aged 18 or older had a substance use disorder in the past year.
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How Does It Work
Vitamin D receptors can be found pretty much everywhere in the human body, so the ways in which vitamin D might affect your mood are innumerable. One of those mechanisms could be hormonal, since vitamin D helps regulate testosterone levels and since low testosterone can impair the mood of men and women.
We should remember, however, that correlation is not causation. The observational data, we said, suggests a correlation between depression and low levels of vitamin D, but that doesnt mean that low levels of vitamin D cause the depression. It might be that depressed people go outside less, thus getting less sunlight, thus producing less vitamin D: the depression would then be the cause of the low vitamin D levels, rather than its consequence.
Even if depression is a consequence, not a cause, it doesnt mean that low levels of vitamin D arent also a consequence. People who go outside less get less sunlight but also probably less exercise and we know that exercise benefits mood, both directly and .
The findings on vitamin D are less consistent. One study found an association between depression and seasonal changes in vitamin D, but another study found no effect of supplemental vitamin D on SAD. And compounding the uncertainty, the researchers of both studies stressed that potential confounders were numerous.
Vitamin Deficiency Can Affect Your Mental Health Here Are 5 Supplements For Mental Health
Psychreg on Health PsychologyWHAT’S IN THIS ARTICLE?
Conversations around mental health have been fairly normalised in recent years. Still, theres a long way to go. But thankfully, things are heading in the right direction and mental health is finally starting to gain more of the attention it deserves.
Yet, one of the things that we dont often hear about is the link between mental health and vitamin deficiency. Diet certainly plays a vital role in a number of diagnosed mental health problems. But because we cant produce most of the vitamins, we have to get them from our diets.
Some mental health problems have been linked to vitamin and nutritional deficiencies. For instance, vitamin D deficiency is associated with depression. Lack of vitamin B12 has been known to exacerbate symptoms in people with specific mental health disorders, such as obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
Here are some of the vitamins known to boost our mental health:
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