Maintaining sufficient levels of vitamin D in the body is not just good for physical health, it can also help protect against depression and promote good mental health, a new study finds.
Researchers looked at over 100 leading articles for a connection between depression, seasonally affected disorder and vitamin D levels (Stewart et al., 2014).
Dr. Alan E. Stewart, who led the study, which is published in the journal Medical Hypotheses, said:
“Seasonal affective disorder is believed to affect up to 10 percent of the population, depending upon geographical location, and is a type of depression related to changes in season.
People with SAD have the same symptoms every year, starting in fall and continuing through the winter months.
We believe there are several reasons for this, including that vitamin D levels fluctuate in the body seasonally, in direct relation to seasonally available sunlight.
For example, studies show there is a lag of about eight weeks between the peak in intensity of ultraviolet radiation and the onset of SAD, and this correlates with the time it takes for UV radiation to be processed by the body into vitamin D.”
Research has also repeatedly shown a link between low levels of vitamin D and depression.
Professor Michael Kimlin, another of the study’s authors, says that maintaining vitamin D levels is relatively easy:
“What we know now is that there are strong indications that maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D are also important for good mental health.
A few minutes of sunlight exposure each day should be enough for most people to maintain an adequate vitamin D status.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Image credit: Alyssa L. Miller