Depression is real – and it can bring up a host of symptoms. While prescribed medication is mandated to help alleviate symptoms, there is also something else that can help such patients feel better. Any guesses? It's vitamin D aka the sunshine vitamin.
According to a meta-analysis conducted by an international team of researchers, vitamin D can help regulate central nervous systems. Any kind of disturbance can cause depressive symptoms, but the sunshine vitamin can come to the rescue and arrest the situation. These findings of were published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.
What's more, in another review published in the journal Nutrients, researchers found that those who took vitamin D supplements saw an improvement in their symptoms of depression. The impact was comparable to that of an antidepressant.
The link between vitamin D and good health
Vitamin D is one of the most essential vitamins that help in the proper functioning of the body. Also known as calciferol, the absence of adequate amounts of this vitamin can trigger issues pertaining to bone density, heart disease, rickets, and cancer.
Apart from offering physical health benefits, it is also the key vitamin responsible for the regulation of mental health. Low levels of this vitamin in adults can cause several illnesses, including schizophrenia, depression, and even seasonal affective disorder.
Vitamin D and depression
Over the years, there have been an increasing number of depression patients. While it is a mental health condition, does it have a strong link with low vitamin D levels? Before we get to that, let's first understand some of the common symptoms that are experienced, as part of depression:
● Loss of interest in daily activities, or even activities you love;
● Isolation and withdrawal;
● Lack of concentration;
● Difficulty sleeping;
● Suicidal thoughts
While there aren't too many studies to prove the relation between vitamin deficiency and depression, it is known that those who suffer from this mental health condition spend more time indoors and do not step out as much. This also means that their bodies do not have enough exposure to vitamin D.
In fact, such patients do not eat properly or even get adequate nutrition. They do not even take vitamin D supplements, and that can really lower their levels. Unfortunately, there are only a few foods that contain this vitamin – these include fatty fish like salmon and tuna, mushrooms, egg yolks, cheese, and beef liver. It’s best to include them in your diet.
What's more, in a study titled Vitamin D and Depression: Where is All The Sunshine? , the groups at risk for vitamin D deficiency include the elderly, adolescents, obese people, and those who suffer from chronic illnesses.
What is the solution?
It is essential that those who suffer from depression get their dose of vitamin D, either through sun exposure or by way of supplements. It is also essential to increase the consumption of this vitamin by having foods fortified with vitamin D.
Doctors advise taking vitamin D along with a source of fat, so that it is well-absorbed in the body. Also, if you are trying to get the vitamin through sunlight, spending a few minutes is good enough. That's because excess time in the sun can raise your risk for skin cancer.
The last word
While there's still not enough evidence to prove that there's a strong link between vitamin D and depression, it is certain that the sunshine vitamin can bestow you with good health. So, if you are someone with depressive symptoms (or not), get your fill of sunshine every day, or eat foods that enrich your body with this vitamin.
You could also have supplements (check with your doctor for the prescribed amount) and get the most of this vitamin. Whatever your way, it's important to start today!