How can Vitamin D help with your Mood – Should Vitamin D be called the Happy Vitamin?
Over the past year awareness of vitamin D has risen as a result of the dietary reference value increasing from 0ųg.d to 10ųg.d. It has finally been noted that the majority of us living in the UK are vitamin D deficient. This is a result of the embarrassing presence of the sun in Britain (which we require for synthesis) and that there are few dietary sources of vitamin D.
As a fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin D can be stored in the body, however, is generally mainly synthesised by the sun. We require around 20 minutes of sun exposure a day to synthesise the body’s requirements. Be aware that this synthesis cannot occur when we smother ourselves in sun cream.
Having introduced vitamin D, you’re probably wondering why vitamin D is so essential and why I’ve referred to it as the happy vitamin.
Vitamin D is essential for numerous important bodily functions; most commonly associated with bone health, however, in this article I am focusing on its key roles relating to mood.
Vitamin D and Depression
Research has shown an association between individuals with depression and low levels of vitamin D. The hippocampus (which is a crucial player in our moods) contains vitamin D receptors. In depressive patients, these receptors are not detecting vitamin D. Among many reasons this may help to explain why low levels can be associated with low mood and depression.
Vitamin D and Mood Disorders
Some studies have found significant links between low levels of vitamin D in the blood and mood disorders including PMS, seasonal affective disorder and other non-specified mood disorders.
Vitamin D and Anxiety
Anxiety is becoming more and more common, this is partly due to the immense pressure we place on ourselves and the nature of our hectic lives in the 21st century. However, there is evidence to suggest that individuals with anxiety are more likely to have lower levels of calcidiol (which is the pre-hormone to the active form of vitamin D3).
Vitamin D and Brain Functioning
As well as mood disorders, there is evidence to suggest that low levels of vitamin D are associated with slower brain processing and reduced cognitive functioning. However, it is unclear whether increasing vitamin D levels can reverse these effects drastically yet it can help to prevent further decline.
Whilst the jury remains out on whether vitamin D supplementation may improve these symptoms, it is clear that deficiency is posing a huge risk to our happiness.
I recommend that you get 20 minutes of sun exposure during the summer months (where possible) and supplement with 25ųg.d of vitamin D during the winter. Additionally, ensure you’re consuming some dietary sources of vitamin D, including eggs, shitake mushrooms and salmon (there really are very few!)
Finally, whilst nutrients and foods play a role in happiness, part of being happy is doing what you love and enjoying the food you eat. Remember you have one life to be happy to live it in the best way possible! Take a look at the Green and Lean plan, to find out about some great healthy lifestyle tools!
Hachey, M. (2012). Vitamin D and Mood.
Murphy, P. K., & Wagner, C. L. (2008). Vitamin D and mood disorders among women: an integrative review. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 53(5), 440-446.
Bicikova, M., Duskova, M., Vitku, J., Kalvachova, B., Ripova, D., Mohr, P., & Stárka, L. (2015). Vitamin D in anxiety and affective disorders. Physiological research, 64, S101.