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Sunshine Vitamin & Depression

According to the WHO, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting about 121 million people. 


Depression is a disabling condition in its own right, impairing all aspects of human function. Depression often makes the management of chronic illness more difficult.

Could Vitamin D be an easy and cost-effective alternative to therapy?

Most people have insufficient vitamin D levels in this country.


Vitamin D is known as the vitamin "sunshine." It helps to maintain strong and healthy bones, supports the growth of cells, and strengthens immune function.

A link between vitamin D deficiency and depression has been shown in studies. Research analysis found that people with low vitamin D were at a much higher risk of depression, statistically. The researchers believe that insufficient nutrient levels may play a role in depression and other mental illnesses since vitamin D is essential for healthy brain function.


Written by Christopher Julius, MS, RDN, LD on April 1, 2020 — Medically reviewed by Santana Hudson, R.D., CDE



What causes Vitamin D related depression?


You may have not had enough exposure to sunlight. 

The primary source of vitamin D for most people is exposure to sunlight. You limit your exposure if you stay out of the sun or you use too much sunblock. That can lead to a deficiency of vitamin D.

It will depend on your climate, the time of day, and the time of year for the amount of sun exposure you need. People with skin that is lighter tend to absorb vitamin D faster. To get enough vitamin D from sun exposure alone, you may need anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours of sun exposure per day. The amount of exposure to the sun largely depends on the time of year and the tone of your skin.



Your diet may be lacking

You haven’t been eating food that are rich in Vitamin D. Some of these foods are oily fish, such as salmon and tuna, red meat, liver, egg yolks, and cheeses. 


You have a darker skin

People with darker skin have a harder time synthesizing Vitamin D for the same amount of exposure to sunlight than their lighter-skinned counterparts. It has something to do with the increased melanin on the darker-skinned people, which prevents skin cancer, but also reduces its efficiency in Vitamin D production. 


You’re of an older age

Age can contribute to vitamin D deficiency. As you get older, your skin becomes less efficient at synthesizing vitamin D.


How to treat vitamin D deficiency depression


Effective detection and treatment of insufficient levels of vitamin D in people with depression or other mental disorders could positively impact the long-term health overall quality of life of patients.


  • taking vitamin D supplements

  • increasing your sun exposure

  • eating foods containing vitamin D or that are fortified with vitamin D

  • Exercising regularly


Speak with your doctor about your treatment options and what would work best for you.


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