Vitamin D Can Help Fight the Winter Blues
Vitamin D is commonly referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” because we absorb it through our skin from the sun’s rays. Your body can make Vitamin D using cholesterol and sunshine, which can result in an uplifted mood. You can also get Vitamin D through your food. Vitamin D absorption results in an increase in serotonin levels. But when those cold winter months roll in, many people experience what is referred to as the “winter blues”, or an overall gloomy feeling during the winter season. It is also commonly referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder. Due to the Earth’s tilted rotational axis, we are exposed to less sunlight which results in less Vitamin D production in our bodies. As a result, Vitamin D is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies people can experience.
Vitamin D is used in more than one way in our bodies. Not only does Vitamin D help lift our mood, but it helps in building and maintaining strong bones and teeth, regulating our immune system, supporting brain and nervous system health, regulating insulin levels, and many other key roles that help sustain or improve our body’s health. The amount of Vitamin D varies from person to person so it’s important to remember other factors that may contribute to Vitamin D levels. For example, a person’s skin tone is one factor that contributes directly to how much Vitamin D someone absorbs. The more melanin a person has, the darker the person’s skin tone is, which makes it harder from that person to absorb Vitamin D. A person’s job and lifestyle are two very important factors when looking at Vitamin D levels. A person who works inside or doesn’t go outside regularly is more likely to have a Vitamin D deficiency.
Here are three ways to increase your Vitamin D intake:
- On average, you should get about 10-20 minutes of direct sun exposure per day. If you have lighter skin, you need less time but if you have darker skin or the further north you live, you’ll need more exposure. If this is the case, it is recommended to get around an hour of direct sun exposure.
- You can consume foods with higher levels of Vitamin D. These foods include different types o fish (halibut, mackerel, salmon, swordfish, rainbow trout, tuna, sardines), mushrooms (such as maitake and portabella exposed to UV light), eggs, and raw milk products.
- Supplementing your Vitamin D is also an option. Ideally you want your Vitamin D blood levels to be between 50 and 60 nanograms per milliliter. For the average adult the recommended dosage is 600 IU (15 mcg) per day. But with each person, each dosage is different, so it is recommended discuss this with your doctor and to get a blood test that tells you how much Vitamin D you actually need.