Vitamin D – The Sunshine Vitamin

 

Vitamin D deficiency is a major world-wide pandemic that affects over half of all people on earth. The cause? Inadequate exposure to sunlight by spending too much time indoors, and also thanks to wearing sunscreen with an SPF rating of 30 or more which blocks vitamin D synthesis by 95%! 

It’s known as “the sunshine vitamin” because our skin produces more of it when exposed to sunlight. It is a vital hormone which has various benefits; from stronger bones and increased immunity (so good against colds) to feelings of positivity, calmness, increased energy levels, improved memory and mental sharpness. It is so important that every cell in the body has Vitamin D receptors! 

Although Vitamin D can be found in dietary sources like oily fish, eggs and fortified milk and cereals, the amount is usually minimal. To get your daily requirements met, you either have to choose plenty of sunshine every day without sunscreen or take a supplement every morning. Think of it as your small dose of sunshine, whether rain or shine!

There is a depressive illness prevalent in the winter months of the northern hemisphere which may be due, at least in part, to inadequate Vitamin D levels called Seasonal Affective Disorder. Studies have found that Vitamin D supplementation often resolves this disorder.

If you want to know how vitamin D works for depression and anxiety, it is converted to active vitamin D (1,25D) which helps increase the amount of serotonin in the brain by three different mechanisms. First it induces serotonin synthesis by making more of the enzyme that helps create serotonin. It also mimics antidepressants such as SSRIs and MAO inhibitors by reducing the expression of the serotonin transporter gene that usually removes serotonin from the synaptic cleft, and reducing the gene expression of MAO-A which is the enzyme that destroys serotonin and dopamine. (1)

Vitamin D doesn’t interfere with the body’s natural processes however, so you won’t see the same kind of side effects that you would get with antidepressants.

Dosage: It is recommended but not essential that you get your levels tested with your physician, so you can track your progress. Successful scientific research into treating depression has used doses such as 2000-4000 IU per day for 1 month, and reduced by half for the following 2 months. 1000 IU is a good maintenance dose to be taken on a daily basis. If you are overweight or obese, you may need a higher dose as body fat sequesters Vitamin D from the blood.

You may notice that you have more energy after taking your daily supplement, so it is best to take it in the morning. 

There are multiple forms available, the most common of which is Vitamin D3 made from lanolin (sheeps wool), however there is also a vegetarian/vegan version made from lichen. Another alternative is Vitamin D2 which is made from various mushrooms exposed to UV light. If you find one form or another intolerable like I did, try another form.

 

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