Maintaining optimal vitamin D levels is vitally important. You can do this through regular sun exposure, eating foods high in vitamin D (such as fatty fish, dairy products fortified with D and eggs) or taking supplements if advised by healthcare providers, particularly if deficient. However, for mental wellness holistic approaches must include diet, exercise and stress management alongside vitamin D intake. Evidence indicates that vitamin D could play a key role in managing our moods. Research indicates that people with low vitamin D levels are more likely to exhibit depressive symptoms.
SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a seasonal depression that typically appears during winter when sunlight levels decrease. Studies have demonstrated that supplementing with Vitamin D could alleviate some symptoms associated with SAD; however, the evidence remains mixed and conclusive. Vitamin D can be found in different parts of the brain and has an impactful role in cognitive performance. Studies have linked vitamin D deficiency with cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer’s. Vitamin D has been demonstrated to benefit immune system health, which in turn can have an indirect influence on mental wellbeing. When your immune system works optimally, it helps fight infections and inflammation – leading to improved mental wellbeing. Stress Reduction: There is some evidence suggesting vitamin D could play a part in relieving anxiety; serotonin production being an example.
Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin. It plays a vital role in many body functions. Vitamin D comes in two main forms:
- Vitamin D2: Ergocalciferol is derived from plants, including fungi.
- Vitamin D3: When exposed to UVB sunlight, the skin synthesizes this form of vitamin D. You can also get it from animal sources such as fatty fish, dairy products, and eggs.
Vitamin D promotes strong teeth and bones by helping the body absorb calcium from food. Vitamin D is essential for maintaining bone density, preventing osteoporosis, and treating rickets. Vitamin D regulates the immune system, and is linked to a lower risk of infections and autoimmune disease. It is also involved in cell growth, differentiation and other cellular functions. Some studies suggest that vitamin D can help reduce inflammation and promote cardiovascular health.
Vitamin D has been linked to conditions such as depression and there is evidence that it may play a role in the mental health.
Some studies explored the potential link between increased vitamin D levels, and a lower risk of certain cancers. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to many health issues, such as weakened bones, an increased susceptibility for infections and muscle weakness. In severe cases it can lead to conditions such as rickets and osteomalacia.
Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D. When exposed to UVB radiation, your skin can synthesize Vitamin D. Many people use dietary sources or supplements to make sure they get enough vitamin D, especially in areas with little sun exposure. Consult a health professional if you are concerned about your vitamin levels. They can provide advice on supplements and diet choices. At present, there is evidence linking mental health with vitamin D. However, its complex relationship must be fully investigated in order to ascertain if this really is the cause. Individual responses to supplementation may also vary greatly so a health professional should always be consulted prior to making significant adjustments to your vitamin intake.