Vitamin D; There Aint No Sunshine When It's Gone!
At TLA we're big on healthy eating not just to stay fit and feel like the best version of ourselves but also because eating healthy and exercising helps us to perform at our best mentally.
Personally, I haven't been a big user of vitamin and mineral supplements before - half because I don't like swallowing tablets and half because I didn't quite believe they would work.
The winter blues isn't just something that makes us feel a bit sad once every season - it can be very damaging and extremely serious to our mental healthy. According to www.betteryou.com 90% of our essential vitamin D must come from our skin’s unprotected exposure to the sun. But modern indoor lifestyles and the overuse of sunscreens are combining to create a deficiency ‘epidemic’. Many diseases and common health conditions, such as depression, could easily be avoided with a simple, daily dose of vitamin D.
Vitamin D is commonly known as the sun vitamin. However it is widely recommended that we get more than was the sun has to offer (especially if its winter or...you live in England.
www.medicalnewstoday.com claims that the benefits of Vitamin D can include:
- Maintain the health of bones and teeth.
- Support the health of the immune system, brain, and nervous system.
- Regulate insulin levels and aid diabetes management.
- Support lung function and cardiovascular health.
- Influence the expression of genes involved in cancer development.
A number of food producers actually added Vitamin D to its cereal products in a bid to fight the rise of rickets amongst young people. This was also partly due to children (and no doubt adults) spending more time indoors playing computer games and watching television and so their exposure to the sun is vastly reduced, heightening the need for a supplement.
Since the 1930's, voluntary fortification of Vitamin D has occurred around the world (particularly in the USA) and has been instrumental in the eradication of rickets. In the UK however, cows milk tends not to be fortified.
Sources of Vitamin D in foods also includes:
- Oily fish
- Red meat
- Egg yolks
Whilst there can be (as with all such things) occasional side effects, we thoroughly recommend bringing a Vitamin D supplement into your life.
The applications of Vitamin D are not just in physiology. Psychology Today advise that:
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a mood disorder featuring depressive symptoms, occurs during the dark times of the year when there is relatively little sunshine, coinciding with the sudden drop in vitamin D levels in the body. Several studies have suggested that the symptoms of SAD may be due to changing levels of vitamin D3, which may affect serotonin levels in the brain.
Indeed, the Independent claim that A lack of vitamin D – common in the UK during the autumn and winter months – has been associated with increased symptoms of depression, according to a new study.
Earlier this year everyone in Britain was recommended to take supplements of the vitamin during the darker months. While it is found in a few foods like oily fish, most people get vitamin D from a natural effect on the body caused by sunlight. Low levels are associated with bone conditions such as rickets and osteoporosis, but it can also affect muscle tissue and has been found to be associated with normal levels of dopamine, a chemical linked to mood, in the brain.
In the new study, which was revealed at the International Early Psychosis Association in Milan, scientists tested vitamin D levels among 225 patients being treated for psychotic disorders and another 159 well people.
They found a significant association between low levels of vitamin D and “higher levels of negative symptoms and of depression” among people with psychosis. They also found a significant link to reduced verbal fluency and cognitive impairments.
In a paper in the journal Schizophrenia Research, the researchers, from Norway, suggested vitamin D could be used to help treat patients. “In a clinical setting, this could support vitamin D as adjuvant therapy in treating co-morbid depressions in psychotic disorders,” they wrote:
“The associations between low vitamin D levels and increased negative and depressive symptoms, and decreased [mental] processing speed and verbal fluency are good arguments for planning large scale randomised controlled studies in target populations, in order to reach conclusions about vitamin D's potential beneficial effect in psychotic disorders.”
Dr Peter Selby, of Manchester University, who has studied vitamin D, said it was plausible that low levels might have a depressive effect. “We know vitamin D levels are important for things like muscle function as well as bone function,” he said. “And muscle function isn’t a million miles removed from nerve function.
“A lot of people with low vitamin D levels … they’ve not quite as much get up and go, they’ve got a few more aches and pains, that sort of thing.”
Best of all, Vitamin D is not expensive - it can be found in many high street chemists and wellbeing shops....we couldn’t be without it!