Vitamin D – The Sunshine Vitamin

 

Vitamin D deficiency is a widespread problem that affects over half of the global population. The primary cause? Lack of sunlight exposure due to spending too much time indoors and using sunscreen with an SPF rating of 30 or higher, which blocks vitamin D synthesis by 95%.

Vitamin D is often referred to as “the sunshine vitamin” because our skin produces more of it when exposed to sunlight. This essential hormone offers a range of benefits, including stronger bones and teeth (especially when combined with Vitamin K2 and Calcium), improved immunity, and positive feelings of calmness, energy, and mental clarity. In fact, every cell in the body has Vitamin D receptors!

While Vitamin D can be found in dietary sources such as oily fish, eggs, and fortified milk and cereals, these sources typically provide minimal amounts. To meet your daily requirements, you can either spend ample time in the sun without using sunscreen or take a supplement daily. Consider it your daily dose of sunshine, rain or shine!

Seasonal Affective Disorder, a common depressive illness that occurs during the winter months in the northern hemisphere, may also be linked to inadequate Vitamin D levels. Studies have found that Vitamin D supplementation often resolves this disorder.

Vitamin D plays a crucial role in treating depression and anxiety. It is converted to active vitamin D (1,25D) which increases the amount of serotonin in the brain through three different mechanisms. It induces serotonin synthesis, mimics antidepressants such as SSRIs and MAO inhibitors by reducing the expression of genes that remove serotonin from the synaptic cleft and that destroy serotonin and dopamine. (1)  Unlike antidepressants, Vitamin D does not interfere with the body’s natural processes and does not cause side effects.

To ensure you are getting the correct dosage, it is recommended to get your levels tested by a physician and track your progress. Successful scientific research into treating depression has used doses such as 2000-4000 IU per day for 1 month, reducing the dosage by half for the following 2 months. 1000 IU is a good maintenance dose that can be taken daily. If you are overweight or obese, you may need a higher dose as body fat can sequester Vitamin D from the blood.

You may notice an increase in energy after taking your daily supplement, so it is best to take it in the morning. There are multiple forms of Vitamin D available, including Vitamin D3 made from lanolin (sheeps wool), a vegetarian/vegan version of D3 made from lichen, and Vitamin D2 made from mushrooms exposed to UV light. If you find one form intolerable, try another.

 

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