Have you ever heard of the sunshine vitamin?
Vitamin D gets this nickname because all you have to do is spend some time in the sunshine and your body begins to produce it. When the sun interacts with your skin, the sun's energy converts cholesterol in your skin to vitamin D.
Here's another question for you. Have you ever noticed how you tend to perk up when the sun comes out after a long hiatus?
Researchers have found that vitamin D and depression may be linked. Read on to learn how this important nutrient can help keep the blues at bay.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
People living above the 37th parallel north in the northern hemisphere (yup, all of Canada) tend to be deficient in vitamin D during the winter months.
The reason for this is that the weak sun is too low in the sky to transmit enough energy for the body to produce vitamin D. It's only shining for a few hours a day, and typically we're spending much more time indoors hibernating from the cold weather as opposed to soaking up the rays during summer. On top of that, there are very few good food sources of vitamin D. A few food sources that do include vitamin D include high-quality cod liver oil, sardines and eggs.
For some people, low vitamin D levels may be linked to Seasonal Affective Disorder, a depression-like mental health issue with the appropriate acronym SAD that affects about 10% of the population.
People with SAD exhibit similar symptoms as people with depression. The defining difference is that SAD symptoms appear during the winter months and go away throughout the rest of the year.
Vitamin D and Depression
To treat SAD, boosting your vitamin D levels is often recommended. There is some evidence indicating that vitamin D is involved in the production of serotonin and dopamine, the "happy" chemicals in the brain. This may indicate why people with depression or SAD often are also deficient in vitamin D.
Benefits of Vitamin D
Aside from possibly boosting your mood, vitamin D holds a host of health benefits. Vitamin D helps the body absorb and regulate calcium, leading to stronger bones and teeth and helping to avoid rickets and osteoporosis.
It can also help regulate insulin, giving diabetics another tool for managing their diabetes.
On top of that, vitamin D promotes:
- Cardiovascular health and avoid heart disease
- Brain health
- Immune system function
- Nervous system health
- Lung function
- Bone strength
In short, even if vitamin D has only a moderate effect on depression symptoms, it's not a nutrient you want to be without.
Vitamin D Supplements
The link between vitamin D and depression, while still not well understood, is there. And with all the other health benefits of vitamin D, it doesn't hurt to keep your levels up where they should be.
Natural vitamin D from the sun is the best source of vitamin D. But how do you get vitamin D in Canada in the dead of winter when the sun is weak and hidden away?
We recommend taking vitamin D supplements. We offer various products containing vitamin D so you'll be sure to find one that fits your nutrition needs.
Have questions? Feel free to contact us. We're here to help support your good health all year round!