How Important is Vitamin D to Your Health?

For some time doctors have known that vitamin D deficiency was linked to diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer.  Now doctors are learning that depression is on this list as well.  While depression and vitamin D are linked it’s not exactly known to what extent.  What the science community is trying to figure out is whether low levels of vitamin D cause depression, worsen it, or maybe just a symptom of the underlying problem.

Vitamin D is commonly referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” because our bodies produce it when exposed to sunlight.  You can also intake vitamin D from foods such as milk, tuna, salmon, mackerel, beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks.  Most of these foods contain small amounts of vitamin which is why it’s important to add supplements if needed.  The daily recommended amount of vitamin is 600 IU for anyone ages 1-70 and 800 IU for anyone over 70.

If you suffer from depression you are more than likely to be inside, not exercise regularly, and not eat healthy.  These actions can increase the vitamin D deficiency which in turn creates more depression.  You can see what a vicious cycle it becomes.

A good way to know if you have a vitamin D deficiency is to see your doctor.  A doctor can test and diagnose your vitamin D levels.  Michael Holick, MD is the director of Vitamin D, Skin, and Bone Research Lab at Boston University.  He says “People often feel better when they take vitamin D”.  Vitamin D improves the serotonin levels in the brain, which is the same chemical many antidepressants work to improve.

One word of caution on vitamin D supplements.  Taking too much vitamin D can create adverse health problems such as constipation, calcium deposits, and damage to organs.  Before ingesting new supplements you should seek a doctor’s guidance on what a proper level of intake is for you.

Here’s to Your Health!

Dr. K Bennett