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Commonly known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, vitamin D has a vital role to play in many areas of your body. One of these roles is regulating our energy and mood, keeping us performing at our best. We know that vitamin D can help with immune function, but is there any proof that vitamin D helps with depression?
What does vitamin D do?
As mentioned above, vitamin D is crucial for a well-functioning immune system, but it is beneficial in other ways too. Studies have shown that a vitamin D deficiency could lead to depression in many cases, especially during the colder months. This then results in lower energy and damaged mental health, sometimes linked with seasonal affective disorder (otherwise known as SAD).
On top of impacting your mood, vitamin D is also crucial for regulating the amount of calcium and phosphate in your body, which helps to keep your teeth, bones and muscles in tip-top shape.
Do we get less vitamin D in the winter months?
Yes - vitamin D deficiency is common in the winter months. This is because our bodies absorb vitamin D from sunlight and, with less sunlight, we don’t get the right amount to function effectively. While profound vitamin D deficiency is rare among adults, studies have indicated that the UK still has the lowest vitamin D status in Europe, with 12-54% of the UK population deficient in vitamin D depending on ethnicity. Ultimately, it’s a health problem that isn’t being addressed at the appropriate level.
How do I consume vitamin D?
One of the best ways to help with this is to spend a bit more time outdoors in the sunshine, exposing your body to more natural sunlight. Not only will this help your immune system, but you’ll also experience an enhancement in your overall wellbeing, especially if you’re experiencing a seasonal affective disorder.
On top of that, rebalancing your diet to contain a host of foods that contain vitamin D is useful for boosting your vitamin D levels. Cheese, egg yolks and a variety of other dairy products all contain healthy amounts of vitamin D, as well as fatty fish. However, consuming sufficient vitamin D via the diet is challenging because only limited foodstuffs have the necessary levels of vitamin D. Thus, supplementation with vitamin D is the only viable solution.
In fact, the NHS states that supplementing your diet with vitamin D is a great way to avoid any complications with vitamin D deficiency, especially in the winter months.