Depression is a very common condition, unfortunately; at least 1 in 10 people in the United States has depression. With a vitamin D deficiency depression is more likely to set in, as can obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and many other conditions.
Depression: What Is It?
Everybody feels sad and fed up every now and then, but these feelings usually don’t last for more than a couple of weeks. When you feel like this, you talk to a family member or friend and you feel better after a short period of time. When you have depression, however, you don’t feel better; you may feel terrible for months, with no end in sight.
It’s believed that depression has many different causes. Sometimes the cause is clear, like the death of a loved one; sometimes, the cause is not clear at all. Some people suffer from depression for very long periods of time for no obvious reason.
Researchers are discovering that some vitamins are very important for mental health and depression, particularly vitamin D. How vitamin D acts in your brain is not fully understood yet, but in tackling the vitamin d deficiency depression symptoms are reduced through certain receptors in the brain.
Studies also show that there’s a link between symptoms of depression and vitamin D deficiencies, and that this vitamin may help to treat depression. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that taking vitamin D will cure your depression. With that said, if you suffer from depression and would like to try taking vitamin D, you can be pretty sure that it won’t do you any harm (as long as you’re not taking more than 10,000 International Units per day). The worst that could happen is that you don’t notice any improvement. Of course, you should not replace your anti-depressant medicines with vitamin D. As always, you should do what your doctor tells you to do.
What’s The Connection Between Vitamin D and Depression?
Vitamin D is important for many reasons. It keeps your bones healthy and affects brain development, among many other things.
Many areas of the brain have receptors for this vitamin. The fact that our brain cells have receptors for vitamin D is a strong indication of the importance of this vitamin when it comes to brain function. Vitamin D is associated with depression because these receptors can be found in the parts of the brain that are associated with depression.
How this vitamin acts in the brain is not completely understood. Some researchers believe that the amount of monoamines (like serotonin, for example) is affected by vitamin D. That would mean that the mechanism by which vitamin D treats depression is similar to how some anti-depressant medicines work: they increase the quantity of monoamines present in the brain.
How Can I Get Vitamin D?
Sunbathing is the most natural way to get vitamin D; it will also enhance your energy and improve your mood (but perhaps that’s also enhanced by the fact that you’re probably on the beach surrounded by people in swimwear)! Non-tanners frequently report feeling less relaxed than tanners. On top of that, several studies show that sun exposure increases β-endorphin, which makes you feel better! About 20 to 25 minutes of exposure is enough to spur the body to make vitamin D. It’s important to use sunscreen to avoid skin cancer and other skin problems that can result from prolonged sun exposure. If you live in a higher latitude, sunlight is not as likely to be powerful enough; in that case, you can use ultraviolet bulbs and lamps. If you’re dark skinned you’ll need to spend a bit more time in the sun.
You can also get your vitamin D through your diet. Some of the foods that will help you with this are: salmon (a 3-ounce salmon fillet will give you about 450 International Units), canned tuna (4 ounces contain 150 IUs), milk (8 ounces contain 100 IUs), orange juice (8 ounces contain around 100 IUs, depending on the brand). Egg yolks, fortified cereal, cod liver oil, also contain lots of this vitamin.
The Institute Of Medicine Recommends a Dietary Allowance Of 600 Ius
Another option is supplements. They can help you to get your adequate daily dose. One of the benefits of getting your vitamin D through these supplements is that you don’t have to worry about getting skin cancer because of UV rays. You can take your whole vitamin D dose at one time, which makes them even more convenient.