Vitamin D & Mental Health

Written by Alessia Cantale, Haberfield Health

Precaution: Please consult with a health professional before taking new medication and implementing  further health information.

For many decades, we have been very sun-smart, protecting ourselves from the harmful rays of the sun.  However, that, coupled with a more sedentary lifestyle and spending more time indoors, we are seeing an increasing number of individuals presenting with symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency. 

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. It helps your body absorb calcium and is a building block for strong bones. It is also an essential vitamin to support the function of muscles and carry nerve messages between the brain and body.  In addition, this important vitamin helps strengthen the immune system.

Risk Factors for Vitamin D deficiency:

– Staying the majority of the day indoors
– Dark-coloured skin
– Certain medications interfere with Vitamin D metabolism
– Living in places with little sun year-round
– Having chronic kidney disease, liver disease or hyperparathyroidism
– Obesity or overweight
– Affected nutrient absorption from conditions such as Crohn’s disease or Coeliac disease

Signs and symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency:

– Low immunity, unable to fight infections and often getting sick
– Fatigue and tiredness
– Bone health is worsening, e.g., bone pain and bone loss
– Depression
– Slow wound healing
– Hair loss
– Muscle pain or back pain

How to naturally increase Vitamin D levels?

– Food: Mushrooms, egg, sardines, salmon and trout
– Spending time in the sun.  Sunscreen blocks Vitamin D absorption, so be cautious of the time spent out in the sun. Wear SPF 15 sunscreen or higher if you are exposed to the sun longer than a few minutes.
– Dietary supplements or multivitamin supplements

Relationship of Vitamin D and Mental health

Research shows that people with depression had lower levels of Vitamin D than controls.  Those individuals with the lowest vitamin D levels are at greater risk of depression.

Moreover, Vitamin D deficiency can cause a possible imbalance and disequilibrium of neurotransmitter
pathways and effecting cellular signaling.

  • Firstly, Vitamin D can lower inflammation associated with depression (through a possible
    immune-modulatory mechanism).
  • Secondly, it can increase region-specific expression of Vitamin D receptors such as prefrontal, cingulate cortices, thalamus, amygdala, and hippocampus (known to play a vital role in mood regulation).
  • Vitamin D modulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and prevents the depletion of dopamine and serotonin.
  • Additionally, low Vitamin D levels can cause a risk factor for depression and mood

Have you noticed you may find it harder to stay focused, awake or be motivated this
lockdown or since working from home?

Ask yourself: Am I getting enough Vitamin D either from the sun and food choices. If you’re not, take some time in the morning to spend some time out in the sun and re-evaluate food choices to manage Vitamin D levels.

Please consult with a health professional before taking new medication and implementing
further health information.  If would like to consult our Naturopath / Nutritionist, appointments are currently available.  Please contact us.

Haberfield Health
Alessia Cantale