Sunshine and Smiles: Could Vitamin D Brighten Moods in Women?

Natural ways to lighten mood and ease depression have often been overlooked in medical research due to the inability to patent and sell natural remedies — and because of this, you may never hear about them. However, researchers at Oregon State University have discovered a connection between low levels of vitamin D and depression in younger women. Though this discovery is considered to be just a small part of understanding the complex causes of depression, the wide-reaching importance of vitamin D should not be discounted.

The Remarkable Nutrient

Most people know that vitamin D is important in maintaining strong bones, but it is not common knowledge that it also plays a crucial role in activating the immune system. Aiding in protection against illnesses like the flu and keeping muscles in good working order are benefits of vitamin D, as is reducing the risk of a dozen cancers, particularly in women, and lowering the chances of heart attack.

The connection between vitamin D and depression has been the subject of few research studies, despite a common inclination to think that they are linked due to the seasonal nature of both vitamin D levels and depression. The researchers at Oregon State University found that, over the course of a five-week study, young women with lower levels of vitamin D experienced greater incidences of depression. This suggests that increasing vitamin D intake could prevent depressive mood states.

Sunshine and Vitamin D

One reason why depressed young women tend to have low levels of vitamin D is the widespread advice to avoid direct exposure to sunlight for it can cause skin damage. This overemphasis on staying out of the sun tends to sideline the fact that, though repeated sunburns are undesirable, sufficient exposure to sunlight is essential to maintain the body’s vitamin D balance. Although the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D is 600 IU per day, the optimum amount necessary for maintaining mental health is yet to be determined, but it is likely to be higher than 600 IU.

The notion that ten minutes in the sun is enough for the body to meet its vitamin D needs is a myth: this might be true if you are at the equator and lying down in full sunlight, but for most people, the required exposure is longer, especially if you are working or exercising outdoors or if you happen to be overweight. Accordingly, around 20 minutes spent sitting in the sun during the summer should provide you with the 4,000 IU that is considered necessary for optimal health.

It is important not to be afraid of getting sunlight on your skin, as it induces the synthesis of vitamin D. If you have particularly light skin, it is recommended that you build up your sun exposure time slowly, while if you live in the north, you might need to spend even more time in the sun to achieve the desired vitamin D production.

In Conclusion

The research at Oregon State University establishes a valuable connection between vitamin D and depression in young women, providing a natural solution to help alleviate depression through increased vitamin D intake. While time spent in the sun is the most beneficial way to obtain this crucial nutrient, it is important to be aware of how much exposure is necessary and to balance it according to your own skin type and location.