We all know Spain is a sunny country so today I thought I'd do an article about vitamin D.
Before I get into it I want to stress that I have no medical background, all the information is from reading articles and if you are concerned about your health and vitamin levels then you should visit a qualified medic or your local GP.
We get most of our vitamin D from sunlight on our skin. The vitamin is made by our body under the skin in reaction to summer sunlight. However, if you are out in the sun, take care to cover up or protect your skin with sunscreen before you turn red or get burnt.
Vitamin D is also found in a small number of foods. Good food sources are:
- oily fish, such as salmon and sardines
- fortified fat spreads
- fortified breakfast cereals
- powdered milk
Vitamin D has several important functions. For example, it helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These nutrients are needed to keep bones and teeth healthy.
A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children and bone pain and tenderness as a result of osteomalacia in adults.
Most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need by eating a healthy balanced diet and by getting some summer sun.
However, there are some groups of the population who are at risk of not getting enough vitamin D. These groups are:
- all pregnant and breastfeeding women
- babies and young children younger than five
- older people aged 65 years and over
- people who are not exposed to much sun, such as people who cover up their skin when outdoors or those who are housebound or confined indoors for long periods
- people who have darker skin such as people of African, African-Caribbean and South Asian origin
There are supplements available that you can take but you need to take care not to overdose. When sunbathing you cannot get too much vitamin D as the body stops production when it has reached the appropriate levels but it can be toxic if you intake too much through foods and supplements.
Other research has shown that vitamin D can also help prevent cancer especially breast and prostate cancer. It also shows that people who already have breast, uterus and ovaries cancer that vitamin D can help improve their condition.
It can also help to strengthen the immune system and help fight diseases.
Vitamin D and Depression!
New research suggests that low levels of vitamin D and depression may go hand in hand.
The new study included about 12,600 people aged 20 to 90. Researchers measured the vitamin D in their blood and assessed symptoms of depression.
People with the lowest levels of vitamin D were more likely to report symptoms of depression, compared to people with higher blood levels of vitamin D. This relationship was strongest among people with a history of depression.
The Institute of Medicine recently raised its recommendations for vitamin D. The institute recommends that people aged 1 to 70 take 600 international units (IUs) of vitamin D per day, and people older than 71 should aim for 800 IUs.
Exactly how vitamin D and depression may be linked is unclear. Vitamin D deficiency may result in depression, or depression may increase risk for low vitamin D levels.
For example, depressed people may spend more time indoors, and are less likely to eat a healthy diet and take care of themselves, all of which could affect vitamin D levels. On the other hand, there are vitamin D receptors everywhere in the body, including the brain. These receptors need vitamin D to do their job.
The new findings appear in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
The new findings “add depression to the spectrum of medical illnesses associated with low vitamin D, and people with depression probably should consider a blood test to see if their vitamin D is low and whether supplements may be needed,” says researcher E. Sherwood Brown, MD, PhD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
Other studies on the link between low vitamin D and depression have yielded mixed results, but most have pointed toward a connection. The new study is among the largest to date, and shows that the two may indeed be linked.
Is Vitamin D the New Antidepressant?
So will vitamin D supplements cure depression? “We can’t promise that,” Brown says.
Some foods like fish and fortified dairy products are rich in vitamin D. These D-rich foods are few and far between, which is why many people recommend supplements of vitamin D.
Robert Graham, MD, routinely discusses vitamin D with his patients. He is an internist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “It makes sense to me that vitamin D deficiency is correlated with depression or anxiety,” he says. “There is something there.”
Whether low vitamin D is causing depression or if loading up on vitamin D can help a person feel better is not known, he says: “I would check patients who are showing signs of depression and if they are deficient in vitamin D, it makes sense to supplement.”
So what are your thoughts. I definitely see peoples mood improve when they've spent a little time in the sun or even just seeing the sun through the window other than dull grey skies and rain and cold seem to make people more happy to get up and do something. I definitely feel when you hear the rain pounding on your window and it's dark in the morning you don't want to get out of bed, you would much rather stay in bed and not do anything that day. Here in Marbella Spain that very rarely happens. I find every morning is bright and sunny and it definitely makes a difference, I have no trouble getting up and am ready to face the day. I can't speak for everyone but I agree that a little sunshine (provided you don't bake yourself) is definitely good for helping you feel happier and enjoying your life better. After living here in Spain for a long time now, I can't imagine feeling happy if I had to go to somewhere like England and have to live life in the cold and rainy conditions they have there.
Leave us a comment on how you feel on how sunny days makes you feel and if you agree with this article or not or if you have mixed feelings about it.