Can the “Sunshine Vitamin” Deliver Mood-Boosting Relief?

As the winter season creeps in, do you find yourself constantly craving a midday nap? Do you feel the urge to reach for an extra cup of coffee? You may be experiencing the winter blues, that unpleasant feeling of sluggishness and sadness that often comes with shorter days, darker evenings, and chillier mornings.

So how do you unlock your inner cheer and drive out feelings of dread during winter months? One famous vitamin might be the key.

Commonly known as “the sunshine vitamin,” our bodies have the unique ability to synthesize vitamin D from cholesterol when we are exposed to sunlight. Not only is vitamin D essential for healthy calcium absorption and bone mineralization, but clinical studies also reveal that vitamin D deficiency is associated with mood swings and seasonal depression symptoms.1

It is no surprise that our ability to synthesize vitamin D is greatly impaired during the winter months. Not only is less daylight available, but the wintry weather often keeps us indoors more often than not. In fact, even during the summertime, many people do not spend enough time outside to generate sufficient vitamin D.

Additionally, as we age, the ability to convert and absorb vitamin D from foods becomes less efficient, making the incidence of vitamin D deficiency more problematic, especially for elderly people as it increases the risk of falls and associated bone fractures. In addition to depressed mood, symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can be masked as muscle and bone pain, and excessive tiredness.2

Other Sources of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is naturally created in the body when exposed to direct sunlight through a complicated conversion of cholesterol. Compared to other fat-soluble nutrients, sources of vitamin D are somewhat limited and include fortified foods (often packed with white flour and white sugar) and animal-based products such as beef liver and sardines. Supplementing with vitamin D can be simple; just choose a reliable, trusted source for high-quality vitamin D from a company with strict quality standards. Hmm… that sounds familiar!

Does Vitamin D Have Other Benefits?

But does this vitamin offer more than meets the eye? In recent years, vitamin D has become an increasingly popular supplement, and for good reason. This fat-soluble micronutrient is critical for optimal calcium absorption to support healthy bones and cardiovascular health. Vitamin D has several other roles in the body, including modulating inflammation and cell growth. Exciting new evidence has verified another benefit of this vitamin – promoting a healthy immune system.

A scientific review conducted in 2020 examined the impact of vitamin D in enhancing the immune response to infections such as the influenza virus.3 Researchers have also investigated the preventive and therapeutic potential of vitamin D for other types of viral infections. It is becoming clear that vitamin D plays a significant role in the body’s sophisticated immune response.

The Bottom Line

Winter, spring, summer, or fall, make sure you get enough daily vitamin D through your diet, by healthy exposure to the sun's rays, vitamin D-rich foods, or through supplementation. Taking this simple measure can be pivotal for improving mood as well as overall health and wellness.



Jenny Perez is an herbal educator, researcher, and writer who has been immersed in the field of nutrition and botanical medicine for more than 20 years. Jenny has created curriculum, content, and educational materials for Quantum Nutrition Labs, Premier Research Labs, the American Botanical Council, and Bastyr University’s Botanical Medicine Department where she was Adjunct Faculty, Herb Garden Manager, and Director of the Holistic Landscape Design certificate program.