Vitamin D and Your Mental Health

Woman taking Vitamin D and enjoying sunshine

There is a definite connection between Vitamin D and your mental health. Just before I sat down to write this blog, I checked the weather forecast for my area.  It’s showing rain and clouds for the next 7 days.  This is not my favorite weather for several reasons.  First, I have young kids, and several rainy afternoons in a row turn my house into a real, live circus.  Secondly, I love the sunshine.  Does anyone else feel a total change in mood and perspective when the sun comes out?  I certainly do.  When the sun is out, the birds sing, and everything looks brighter and cheerier.  And thirdly, my body misses out on soaking in Vitamin D, the “sunshine” vitamin.

What does Vitamin D do?

You may already know that Vitamin D is an essential vitamin to your physical health.  It aids in strengthening your bones, fostering cell growth, optimizing brain function,  and boosting your immune system.  In fact, several studies have recently come out showing that a large percentage of people with serious complications from COVID-19 were deficient in Vitamin D.  There is no doubt that Vitamin D is vital in keeping our bodies and immune systems functioning at their optimal level.

Did you also know, however, that Vitamin D is just as important to your mental health?  Because Vitamin D aids in healthy brain function, individuals with low Vitamin D levels often suffer from mental health issues.  Recent studies have shown a strong correlation between depression and having reduced levels of Vitamin D in the body.  High levels of Vitamin D have also been linked to greater feelings of optimism and emotional well being.

How can I increase my levels of Vitamin D?

So, now that we know how important Vitamin D is to our overall health, let’s look at some ways to increase our Vitamin D levels.  The best way to get Vitamin D is straight from the sun.  So, when the sun is out, make it a point to get outside.  However, depending on where you live and what season it is, this may prove difficult.

There is also no magic formula for how much sunlight one should get in order to maintain optimal Vitamin D levels.  Vitamin D levels vary from person to person, based on factors such as age, weight, and skin tone.  Therefore, the amount of Vitamin D that each person needs to sustain an optimal level varies.  What is certain, though, is that the more time you spend in the sunshine, the higher your Vitamin D levels will be.

If you find yourself in the middle of a dreary winter, like I am right now, or in a place where it’s just too cold to get outside much, then you may want to check out some other ways to increase your Vitamin D levels.  Foods such as salmon, mackerel, and other fatty fish are great sources of Vitamin D.  Vitamin D is also found in animal meat and fats.  You can also choose foods such as milk, orange juice, and cereals which are often fortified with Vitamin D.

Another way to increase your Vitamin D levels is to take a Vitamin D supplement on a daily basis.  These can often be found at drugstores or health food stores and even grocery stores, and can be bought in the form of drops or capsules.

As Soon As You Can…Get Out There!

So, the next time you see the sun peek out of the clouds, get outside.  Take a walk, inhale the fresh air, and listen and take in your surroundings.  Maybe you need to take a walk around the building on a work break, or sit outside in the park and eat your lunch if the sun is out.

Just a few extra minutes of sunlight when possible can do wonders for your physical and mental health just by soaking in some of that good “sunshine” vitamin.

Still Need Extra Support?

If you are struggling with depression or feelings of helplessness, we would encourage you to seek out ways to increase your level of Vitamin D.  Get outside, eat Vitamin D rich foods, and talk to your physician about a Vitamin D supplement.

If you find that increasing your Vitamin D level just isn’t improving things or if you are struggling to the point that your feelings of depression are affecting your day to day life, please give us a call.

The therapists at Waters Edge Counseling are here to give you the support you need to get through those difficult challenging times of life.  Give us a call at 912-319-5552 or click HERE to schedule your appointment online. We’d love to help you!