Vitamin D deficiency is a common condition with implications for mental health. Several randomized controlled trials have now shown that raising vitamin D levels in individuals with a deficiency can help mitigate the effects of depression. You obtain vitamin D through food and the sun. With summer right around the corner, spending time outdoors with sun exposure can help improve your mental health. However, you should also be sure to protect your physical health and wear sunscreen.
Food Sources of Vitamin D
Foods that contain a lot of vitamin D include salmon, egg yolks, and mushrooms just to name a few examples. Foods that are fortified with vitamin D include milk, orange juice, cereal, and oatmeal. You can check the nutrition label on foods you purchase to better determine how much vitamin D they contain. The recommended daily intake of vitamin D for adults is 600 international units (IUs). A typical range for vitamin D levels in the blood is 20 – 50 ng/mL.
Vitamin D From the Sun
During exposure to the sun, UVB rays convert to a form of vitamin D3 for the body to metabolize and draw vitamin D from sun exposure. This is how you obtain vitamin D from the sun, with a variety of implications throughout the body. In particular, there is a correlation between low vitamin D and depression that is not completely biologically understood.
Taking Vitamin D Supplements
In addition to natural sources of vitamin D, you can also contact your doctor about supplementation with vitamins. Many physicians advocate for a vitamin D boost to get those individuals who are severely deficient on the right track. You will take a surplus of vitamin D for a limited period until your vitamin D levels reach a healthy equilibrium.
To test for that amount of vitamin D in your blood, you can try the 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. Deficiency is indicated by any level less than 12 ng/mL.
There is substantial evidence of the link between vitamin D deficiency and depression. Be sure to get some sun and to get well this summer. You can also consult your physician and pursue vitamin D supplementation if you are particularly concerned or have a deficiency. At Valiant Living, we advocate for the collaboration between physical and mental health providers. We know the mind-body connection is a crucial component of care. At our men’s only facility in Colorado, we treat addiction and co-occurring mental illness. To learn more, you can contact us at (303) 952-5035.