The positive effects that vitamin D has on our mental and physical wellbeing are huge. These benefits range from helping fight depression by increasing serotonin, the hormone key to stabilising mood and increasing happiness and also helping improve your sleep.
Your brain, muscles, immune system, and heart have vitamin D receptors. The body transports the vitamin to the kidneys and liver, where it converts into an active hormone. In this form, it assists the body in absorbing calcium. Vitamin D can be absorbed through food, however, the greatest access to Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin.
This serves as a good opportunity to take a look at the benefits of vitamin D that we can look forward to during summer.
So what can vitamin D do for your wellbeing?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps the body absorb calcium and minerals to build stronger bones, muscles, and teeth. Additionally, recent research suggests that Vitamin D plays a significant role in preventing and treating various health issues, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers.
1) Relieve your stress
Dark, winter months can bring stress to many, and the science suggests it’s more than just feeling cold and stuck indoors. Low levels of vitamin D are associated with depression (e.g. low mood, low energy, increased irritability), making seasonal affective disorder (SAD) a common experience for all in wintertime, but even more prevalent in geographical locations that don’t get a lot of regular sunshine.
2) Boost your mood and energy
Although this might sound similar to relieving stress, strong levels of vitamin D not only correlate with reduced stress – it also improves the production of “feel good” hormones. Vitamin D actively fights depression by increasing serotonin, the hormone key to stabilising mood and increasing happiness.
3) Improve your sleep
Accessing regular sunlight helps us to better align with our biological clock, and it fosters a healthy balance of melatonin (rest hormone) and cortisol (alert hormone) production so that we are more likely to get deeper quality sleep when we do hit the sheets.
You might even recall those long days of playing in the sun and the delicious sleep that you got afterwards! Simultaneously, getting good sleep has phenomenal mental health benefits of psychological regulation, restoration and repair.
Vitamin D is vital for maintaining bone health and muscle function. When your body does not get enough Vitamin D, it cannot absorb enough calcium and phosphorus, which affects bone health. Inadequate Vitamin D intake is also linked to muscle weakness, increasing the risk of falls and fractures, especially in older adults.
4) Motivate you
This one is a bit of a no-brainer – we are more motivated to get outside if the weather isn’t inclement. Yet, science comes through once again to back us up. Dopamine has also been found to increase when we access those sweet rays of sunshine.
This is great, because dopamine is known as the “motivation molecule” for its ability to keep us action-focused, mentally clear and attentive. So increasing your sunshine intake can be a great brain-fog buster.
5) Improve your overall quality of life
There’s a good reason people flock to sunny beach vacations – it creates the perfect conditions for feeling good. Studies have shown that people who spend more time in the sun are more likely to live longer [alongside protective skincare routines] and also more likely to report higher life satisfaction
Increasing your intake of vitamin D can help reduce stress, improve your happiness, improve your sleep and motivation, and overall improve your quality of life. Hopefully this gives you some good excuses to take every opportunity to get outside and play in the sunlight when you can (while minding your skin and exposure levels).
But what if the sunny days don’t come as frequently as you’d like? Not to fear! There are alternatives to boosting our vitamin D intake, like consuming vitamin D-rich foods (e.g. fortified foods, fatty protein sources [fish like salmon, liver, red meat]), vitamin D supplements and light therapy [can be done at home].
6) Reduces risk of certain diseases
Research has found that Vitamin D deficiency is linked to several chronic health conditions. A study has found that people with regular Vitamin D intake have a lower risk of developing Type 1 and 2 diabetes compared to those with low Vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D also plays a role in reducing inflammation, which is a contributing factor to many chronic diseases such as arthritis, heart disease, and certain cancers.
7) Supports mental health
Vitamin D is essential for maintaining cognitive function, supporting mood regulation, and reducing the risk of depression. Recent studies have shown that individuals with low levels of Vitamin D may be more likely to develop depression. Increasing Vitamin D levels may positively impact cognitive function, increase concentration, and boost mood.
8) Helps boost immunity
Vitamin D also plays a crucial role in supporting your body’s immune system. It helps to maintain healthy bacteria in the gut, leading to better gut health, which is crucial for your overall immunity. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased impairment of immune function and higher risks of infections.
Spread more awareness with workplace wellbeing trainings
Here at Zevo Health, we provide many workplace wellbeing trainings that arrange from nutrition to mental health. These trainings can be hosted online or in person. As always, remember to consult with your GP or medical professional before engaging in alternative form of supplementation.