We’ve been told time and time again that exposing our bodies to a little bit of sunshine is good for us. (As long as we don’t bake under those UVA and UVB rays for too long without shade and sunscreen, that is—doing that is basically asking for skin damage.) After all, responsible sun exposure is touted for its ability to boost our mood and increase our physical health.
But what about fall and winter when our days are much darker and colder? Come January and February, our sun exposure is often pretty limited (especially for those of us living on the East Coast and in the Midwest, where winter is three straight months of swirling snow and cloudy skies), leading to vastly diminished vitamin D levels.
And according to Dana Kofsky of Wellness Styled, the consequences of vitamin D deficiency are major, and can include things as depression, anxiety, fatigue, and muscle pain. To learn more about the way vitamin D effects the body, along with the foods and supplements that can keep your levels steady, keep reading.
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“Vitamin D has several very important functions,” Kofsky tells us. “Perhaps the most vital are regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, building a healthy immune system, fighting disease, and regulating moods.” That’s why being deficient in the nutrient can have such far-reaching consequences, result in everything from depression and anxiety to back pain, blood sugar issues, and weight gain.
Research supports vitamin D’s effect on mental health, especially where depression is concerned. One study conducted in the Netherlands found that low levels of vitamin D were linked to symptoms of both major and minor depression in research participants. Another study found that supplementation of vitamin D improved participants’ symptoms, resulting in better health and overall well-being.
It’s not just depression either. Some research indicates low levels of vitamin D play a role in heightening levels of anxiety. In fact, one study showed that children who were vitamin D deficient experienced significantly more anxiety and stress than their peers. In this way, lack of vitamin D and sun exposure could be seriously messing with your mental health. Story continues