by Dr. Karissa Walton, Founder & Medical Director, The Mobile Health Doc
Arizona is such a beautiful state. We enjoy gorgeous landscapes, blue skies and plenty of sunshine year-round. With that sunshine comes a natural abundance of vitamin D. Did you know optimal vitamin D levels can bring happiness and an overall sense of well-being?
Although labeled as a vitamin, research shows vitamin D is converted and functions as a hormone in the body. Its many functions help to regulate calcium and phosphorus levels, as well as affect the immune, musculoskeletal, digestive and endocrine systems. Optimizing your vitamin D levels can help prevent illness, strengthen bones, improve metabolism and best of all — boost your mood!
Low vitamin D levels can decrease the activity of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep-wake cycles, mood, digestion and other functions.
Vitamin D deficiency can be associated with several mood disorders such as:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Major Depressive Disorder
- Premenstrual Syndrome
- Seasonal Affective Disorder
Optimal vitamin D levels can promote more serotonin production, resulting in an improved mood, well-being, self-esteem and happiness. The risk of depression is significantly reduced in those with optimal levels. Proper supplementation has also been shown to benefit the treatment of medical conditions such as fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, hypothyroidism and even certain types of cancer.
The best time of day for maximal absorption of vitamin D from the sun is midday, around 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Most individuals only require about 8 to 15 minutes daily to absorb a sufficient amount to be beneficial. Be careful though, as the body no longer absorbs the vitamin once the skin starts to sunburn.
Despite Arizona’s abundance of sunshine, Arizonans are still susceptible to suboptimal levels. It’s important to ingest foods with higher concentrations of vitamin D that include:
- Wild-caught fish (e.g. salmon, herring and sardines)
- Egg yolks
- Cod liver oil
Consider working with a licensed health care provider to have your vitamin D levels checked and obtain the proper supplemental dosing. Professional grade supplements help increase this critical nutrient without added fillers or preservatives. Purchasing from a qualified health care provider ensures the supplement has gone through rigorous testing to ensure the best quality. Vitamin D injections are another great option to boost this nutrient due to its rapid absorption.
Enjoy the summer — may the sunshine bring a smile to your face and happiness to your body!