Have you experienced the mid-winter blues? You know, that icky feeling of sluggishness and sadness that often comes with shorter days, darker evenings, and chillier mornings. So, how do you battle these feelings and feel more like your cheerful self during these winter months? One famous vitamin just might be the key.
Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin” because your body naturally creates vitamin D from direct sunlight when you are outdoors. It is obvious that during the winter months, when it is often too cold to spend much time outdoors and the days are shorter, you do not get as much vitamin D from your environment as you do during the rest of the year. In fact, even during the summertime, many people do not spend enough time outside to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D.
Normal values for vitamin D blood levels are 95 – 100 nmol/L. However, studies show that almost 50% of the worldwide population has vitamin D insufficiency (where vitamin D levels are too low at 50 – 75 nmol/L) and worse yet, an estimated 1 billion people worldwide have an outright vitamin D deficiency (where values are below 50 nmol/L).1 The lack of vitamin D can be explained by environmental factors including less outdoor time during the winter but can also be impacted by factors such as pollution.
If you are lacking a sufficient amount of vitamin D, you might experience fatigue, bone pain, muscle weakness, muscle aches, muscle cramps, or mood changes such as depression or anxiety. These symptoms can be distressing, but the long-term effects of vitamin D deficiency can be even worse, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, immune system disorders, and some types of cancers including colon, prostate, and breast cancers. You can see why remedying this vitamin D deficiency is incredibly important.
Some studies have actually indicated a link between low vitamin D levels and depression and memory decline. One study from Rush University Medical Center found that a person with depression had a greater risk for dementia.2 The study even linked the severity of depression to the rate of speed of memory decline – the worse the depression, the faster memory would decline.
Another hidden benefit of vitamin D is its immune-boosting capabilities. In many studies, vitamin D levels correlate with the severity of illnesses – those who had deficient blood levels of the vitamin tended to suffer more acutely from diseases. To boost the immune system, the bioavailability of vitamin D in nutritional supplements can vary tremendously. For this reason, it is imperative to seek out a highly bioavailable vitamin D supplement that can be easily absorbed and used in the body.
The optimal source of vitamin D is through absorbing natural sunlight frequencies, so being outdoors for 15 – 30 minutes each day with sunlight shining at least on your face and arms can help boost your vitamin D levels. However, in the winter when it is too cold to spend a lot of time outside, adding a reputable vitamin D3 supplement to your daily regimen can help keep your vitamin D levels in the acceptable range. Let the “sunshine vitamin” help you feel like your radiant self this winter!