The topic of vitamin D deficiency comes up frequently in my office during the winter months. Vitamin D has many unique properties. It helps to regulate calcium and phosphorus in the body. Vitamin D is very important in bone health and bone density.
Unlike most vitamins, vitamin D is manufactured by your body (incredible isn’t it)? The easiest way to get the appropriate amount of vitamin D is through sun exposure. Vitamin D deficiency can be quickly corrected with appropriate sunlight exposure. It is recommended to go in the sun for 2-3 times per week for a relatively short period. The amount of time in the sun should be less than 50% of the time it would take to obtain a mild sunburn.
Lack of vitamin d is correlated with depression and mood swings. It is theorized that vitamin d relates to the production of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain which affects mood levels. Decrease in serotonin can cause depression.
Lack of vitamin D in the winter time is particularly common in the northern portion of the United States in which changes in day light are much more extreme. During the winter months, the Midwest may have days as short as 9 hours and long periods of time with grey skies. It is this period in which individuals tend to feel the effects of the seasonal changes and vitamin d levels. In fact, there is a name for this phenomenon known as “Seasonal Affective Disorder.” Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs in the fall and winter months. Although SAD is more than just vitamin D deficiency, vitamin D supplementation may be very beneficial for this group of individuals.
Many people are aware of the need for calcium as we age to maintain bone mass. Many individuals are not aware of the critical role vitamin D plays in calcium absorption. Vitamin D is absolutely necessary for your body to absorb calcium. Calcium supplementation without appropriate levels of vitamin D will be fruitless.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, or are concerned with your bone density, feel free to discuss the topic of Vitamin D with me on your next visit. Also, discuss this with your primary care physician before beginning any supplementation.