Vitamin D, which can be acquired through exposure to sunlight or supplements, is recognized as a crucial component for maintaining optimal health. The lack of vitamin D can cause depression among other ailments.
Lack of vitamin D can cause depression and hormonal problems
Most people know that vitamin D is important for good bone health. However, many times they don’t realize that vitamin D is also essential for many other functions that keep us strong and healthy. For example, vitamin D plays an important role in supporting immune and hormonal health.
In fact, several studies have shown that there is a clear correlation between a lack of vitamin D and an increased development of diseases. Vitamin D has been shown to be particularly important for people with health problems such as:
- Weakened immune function
- Cardiovascular problems
- Blood sugar problems
- Chronic fatigue
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Other diseases related to inflammation.
- Uterine fibroid tumors
Additionally, vitamin D has a direct positive effect on the hormonal balance in the body. Vitamin D interacts with the parathyroid hormone, which is responsible for regulating calcium in the body.
A vitamin D deficiency can lead to abnormal parathyroid hormone production, which can eventually lead to hormonal imbalance.
Vitamin D also affects the pituitary gland, which is responsible for regulating many different hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
A study published in “Brain Pathology” found that vitamin D is essential in regulating the growth of pituitary cells. This is important because if the pituitary cells grow abnormally, pituitary tumors can form, often resulting in hormonal imbalance and eventually disease.
The study indicates that this vitamin could help treat some pituitary tumors and that in some cases it could help prevent a pituitary hormonal imbalance.
Avoid vitamin D deficiency
It is clear that vitamin D is essential for our health. But how do we know if we are getting enough vitamin D? The surprising reality is that most people today have very little. Many people are deficient in vitamin D and don’t even know it.
The most natural way to get vitamin D is by exposing your bare skin to sunlight (ultraviolet B rays). This can be very quick and easy, particularly in the summer. You don’t need to tan or burn your skin to get vitamin D. You just need to expose your skin for about half the time before it starts to turn pink and start to burn.
The amount of vitamin D that is produced from sunlight depends on the time of day, the part of the world you are in, and the color of your skin. The more skin you expose, the more vitamin D you will receive. You can also get vitamin D by taking supplements. This is a good way to get more vitamin D if you can’t get enough sunlight or are concerned about exposing your skin.
Vitamin D3 is the best type of supplement you can take. It comes in several different forms, such as tablets and capsules.
The reality is that most of us do not have time or live in a place where the climate does not allow us to expose our skin all year round. Even if we had time to be outside, most people hesitate, considering the evidence associated with sun exposure and skin cancer or premature aging.
Who is at risk?
Teenagers. Today’s teens are also getting less and less direct exposure to sunlight. Puberty is a very critical time since at this stage up to half of the bone mass that will be needed for adulthood begins to accumulate, and vitamin D helps ensure that people have the calcium levels in the blood that are necessary for this important process.
African Americans. African Americans are at the highest risk of vitamin D deficiency because dark skin needs 5 to 10 times more sunlight than Caucasian skin to produce the same amount of the vitamin. One study found that 42 percent of African American women in the US are deficient in vitamin D.
Older adults. Older adults can also be at particularly high risk. After age 50, minimum vitamin D needs double because the body is less able to produce its own vitamin D.
In a report published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society in February 2004, researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland found that elderly women who took a vitamin D supplement with calcium for three months reduced their risk of deficiency by 49% compared to consuming calcium alone.
Those who experience rapid weight loss. It’s probably obvious that extreme dieting or stress can lead to poor nutrition. Diet can reduce total calories or nutrient sources, while stress can cause loss of appetite or unhealthy eating habits.
The problem in both circumstances is that they can lead to bone loss due to a lack of vitamin D and other nutrients. Loss of energy often equates to loss of mass, including that of bone. In this situation, the ideal is to take a vitamin D supplement that also supports bone health.
What about the diet to gain vitamin D?
Unfortunately, you cannot get all the vitamin D you need from diet alone. Unlike other vitamins, there are surprisingly few foods that are high enough in vitamin D to actually maintain the levels that most of us need.
Eggs, some types of fish, and fortified foods contain small amounts of vitamin D, but for the most part, we need to supplement unless we can expose our bodies to enough sunlight to generate sufficient levels of vitamin D.
Check your vitamin D levels
Whether you are considering vitamin D supplementation as a preventive measure, or adding it to a treatment plan, it is always a good idea to have a blood test to measure your vitamin D levels. Ideal amounts would be between 40 -80 mg.