By: Tamara Ince
According to Psychology Today, approximately one billion people around the world do not consume enough vitamin D. Since every single tissue in our body has vitamin D receptors, the impacts of vitamin D deficiencies are profound. Vitamin D from any source activates genes that regulate our immune system, release chemicals that improve our brain function, aid in the release of neurotransmitters that empower us to better handle daily anxieties, help us reduce or prevent the effect of depression of Seasonal Affective Disorder, and more. Over a hundred separate research journals have found that vitamin D can help improve mental function and either treat or prevent mental health issues. It doesn’t matter if the vitamin D comes from food, is made by the body through exposure to the sun, or comes from supplements, the beneficial effects are the same.
The multitude of research studies from around the world hailing the benefits of vitamin D have inspired many to take vitamin D supplements or increase their sun exposure. However, for some, their normal daily diet and sun exposure provides all the vitamin D that they need. If you aren’t low in vitamin D, supplements may be a waste of your valuable income. That is why seeking medical advice from your medical team prior to starting a supplement can save time and money. Furthermore, it is vital to consult with a medical professional prior to taking vitamin D supplements or increasing exposure to the sun because these actions can pose significant risks to many. For example, there are many medical diagnoses, such as celiac disease, where increasing the vitamin D in your body can cause worsening of symptoms. In addition, many medications may be rendered less effective when a person has a high level of vitamin D in their body. Other medications, such as anticonvulsants and glucocorticoids, can make one more susceptible to UV radiation. Thus, people taking these medications should limit their sun exposure, in order to minimize risk of cancer and other sun related ailments. How much sun a person can safely tolerates depends on their medical diagnoses, current medications, current treatment plans, their skin tone, and even whether or not they live north of the 37th parallel. It is extremely complex to fully understand your maximum tolerable sun exposure levels. However, by consulting with your medical professional, you can develop a plan to ensure that you are getting enough vitamin D, without negatively impacting your health.
When it comes to vitamin D and the sun, more is not necessarily better. Before modifying your current treatment plan, increasing sun exposure, or even considering taking vitamin D supplements, it is important that you consult with a medical professional. Otherwise, you may be doing more harm to yourself than good.
"Cerebrum." Vitamin D and the Brain: More Good News. Dana, 07 Apr. 2009. Web. 24 May 2017.
"Supplement for myelin regeneration." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 07 Dec. 2015. Web. 24 May 2017.
Greenblatt, James M. "Psychological Consequences of Vitamin D Deficiency." Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, 14 Nov. 2011. Web. 24 May 2017.
Mann, Denise. "Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Depression." WebMD. WebMD, 27 June 2012. Web. 24 May 2017.
Penckofer, Sue, Joanne Kouba, Mary Byrn, and Carol Estwing Ferrans. "Vitamin D and Depression: Where is all the Sunshine?" Issues in mental health nursing. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 June 2010. Web. 24 May 2017.