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The Sunshine Vitamin | Vitamin D

It's that glorious time of year again where the days are shorter and the air is bitter. Well at least for those of us living up north! It's during these months where sunshine is limited (womp womp) and it seems as though most are stuck in this sluggish, often melancholy mood. Sound familiar? To me it certainly does! I definitely thrive off of warmer sunny weather and these winter days sometimes seem like a total drag.

Here's the good thing. These feelings may not completely be linked towards your mental outlook on the season. You may just need a little boost of Vitamin D! In fact, about 70% of the U.S. population does not meet the estimated average requirement (EAR) for this vitamin according to data compiled by the Vitamin D Council.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D A.K.A. the sunshine vitamin is a fat-soluble vitamin. The reason it's called the sunshine vitamin is because sunshine is one of the best sources for providing this vitamin to our bodies. Sunshine (UV) causes skin production of vitamin D3 which is then metabolized by the kidneys and liver to activate the vitamin to then be used by different metabolic processes in the body. Vitamin D is responsible for maintaining normal growth and development of teeth and bones by regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the body. It is also vital for our immune system and resistance against certain diseases. Research suggests that if your body does not receive enough of this vitamin you could be at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment, asthma, and cancer.

Vitamin D and Mood

Research also has indicated that Vitamin D may play a role in regulating mood and potentially decreasing depression. In one study in 2013, researchers found that this vitamin deficiency was more common in individuals who were also medically diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Although research is not 100% conclusive studies show that there's most definitely a link between low levels of vitamin D in the blood and symptoms of depression. It can be suggested that vitamin D may play a part in a depressed mood however, many other factors contribute to this as well. According to the Vitamin D Council, this link between mood and vitamin D may be due to the many vitamin D receptors that have been found in different parts of the brain where they receive chemical signals. Exactly how vitamin D works in the brain isn't fully understood at this point however, it does show that there is some interaction between vitamin D and the brain from a physiological standpoint.

What Causes Deficiency?

  • Not enough sunlight (15 mins of sunshine/day is adequate)

  • Limited access to sunlight (living in cities, shorter days in the winter, etc.)

  • Having darker/tan skin (The higher the levels of melanin, the less vitamin D the skin can absorb)

  • Excessive use of sunscreen

Also, ladies especially those in the north! Many of our beauty products have SPF added to them (i.e. foundation, face creams, etc.). During the winter we need as much sunlight as possible as we aren't dealing with much. I would recommend that during the cold months you abstain from using any of these products!

Sources of Vitamin D

Besides the obvious (sunlight exposure) there are some food sources that have vitamin D!

  • Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring)

  • Fortified milk

  • Fortified orange juice

  • Eggs

  • Beef liver

  • Swiss cheese

Vitamin D3 Supplementation

Although typically I'm not one to recommend supplements as I prefer using real food I do believe in a vitamin D supplement during the winter months to my patients/clients especially if I have lab work that comes back low. About a 600-1,000 IU vitamin D3 supplement daily should do the trick for the average individual. If your blood levels came back lower than average talk to your doctor about a dosage that is right for you!

Hope you all can get a little sunshine {vitamin} into your day! :)

Until next time,

xx Jackie

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