Vitamin D benefits for moods, fatigue, depression and immunity
Vitamin D deficiency can cause major issues. Due to our limited exposure to sunlight for those of us spending too much time indoors or going to work before sun up and coming home late at night it is often easy to become deficient in this vitamin as its main source is sunshine. So, if you stay out of the sun or use too much sunblock, you are limiting your exposure. Depending on your climate, time of day and time of year your exposure will also differ. The amount of exposure you may need can vary as well, you may only need as little as 15 minutes or as much as up to 3 hours each day.
Why you need Vitamin D
If you don’t get enough sunlight you can add foods that are a natural source into your diet. Some of these foods include salmon, mackerel and other fatty fish, fish liver oils, animal fats, orange juices and cereals.
Obesity can be another reason for deficiency. If you have a BMI of 30 or higher you may have to absorb more vitamin D than if you had a BMI in order to reach recommended levels. Age can also contribute to deficiency. This is because when you get older, your skin becomes less efficient at synthesizing vitamin D.
There has been some research that suggests that there may be a connection between vitamin D and depression. Vitamin D is important for not just the prevention of illnesses such as depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), anxiety disorders and schizophrenia, but is also the treatment. This vitamin is important as it helps to regulate your moods.
What studies show
There was a study (one of many) that showed that women with serum vitamin D levels less than 40ng/ml improved significantly with their moods after being given vitamin D supplements. This means that there is a possible biochemical mechanism between vitamin D and mood disorders affecting women.
There have also been some positive findings that have shown that vitamin D supplements can help to improve your moods, however the exact reason as to the effect it has on mental health has such a positive outcome is still unknown. Some researchers have hypothesised that it could be because vitamin D impacts stress through regulation of hormones. Problems with stress hormone production, either too high or too low can impact negatively on mental health. It can also regulate the immune response and has significant immune-enhancing benefits. Vitamin D may help to improve mental health though its anti-inflammatory effects and also increases catecholamine production such as dopamine, adrenaline and noradrenaline. These assist with moods and better mental health. Tyrosine hydroxylase is an enzyme required for the production of these and often people are deficient in this also. Since Vitamin D increases serotonin production it also assists with depression, anxiety and a range of mental health disorders.
A major benefit of this vitamin is that it raises your immunity because it works with other vitamins and minerals to keep your body in balance. Prolonged deficiency of vitamin D can be life threatening in some instances. Do not ignore this vitamin. So despite what some media sources are telling us be smart and sit in the sun for ten minutes around lunchtime, look after your gut so your absorption levels are good and if needed take your supplements. Remember an unhealthy gut means you are not metabolising your food or anything else properly. Remember also that there are many things that can deplete your body of nutrients.
A simple blood test will let you know if you are deficient in Vitamin D and exactly how deficient you are. Vitamin D can be supplemented successfully by buying some at your local health food store however to get the right dosage and compound it is advisable to ask you natural health practitioner who will, after a consultation, be more aware of what is right for you.