Family Health


Vitamin D Deficiency and Moods

Scenic view of colorful forest in the fall and country road

Vitamin D Deficiency and Moods

Vitamin D Deficiency and Moods

Having low vitamin D levels or Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to four mood disorders. Premenstrual syndrome, seasonal affective disorder (also known as winter blues), non-specified mood disorder, and major depressive disorder are all related to low vitamin D. Symptoms of a Vitamin D deficiency are muscle pain, weak bones, low energy, fatigue, lowered immunity, and symptoms of depression; moods swings, and sleep irregularities.

Vitamin D can increase the levels of serotonin, which controls your moods in your brain. Your vitamin D receptors are located in bone, skeletal muscle, immune cells, and several body tissues like the brain, prostate, breast and colon.

Premenstrual syndrome is when emotional and physical disturbances occur after a woman ovulates and usually ends with menstruation. The most common symptoms are irritability, crying, depression, over sensitivity, and mood swings.

Seasonal affective disorder, or winter blues, is a mood disorder that affects people in the winter months. They have normal mental health throughout most of the year but experience depressive symptoms in the winter. This usually happens year after year. A person with seasonal affective disorder may sleep too much, have no energy, and crave starchy foods and sweets.

Major depressive disorder is when you have low self-esteem, and loss of interest in things that once pleased you.

Vitamin D can be found in food, but only a few foods are a good source of it. Because only a few foods have a good amount, some people should take vitamin D supplements if they are not exposed to sunlight on their skin on a regular basis. You can find vitamin D in the following foods: pure cod oil (check the label because some companies removed the vitamin), salmon, mackerel, canned tuna fish in oil, canned sardines in oil, milk (non fat, reduced fat, whole and vitamin d fortified), margarine, pudding (if it is prepared from mix using vitamin d fortified milk), some ready to eat cereals, eggs (vitamin d is found in the yolk), beef liver, and Swiss cheese.

Another source of vitamin D is sunlight. Sunlight is far more likely to provide you with your daily vitamin D requirement than your food intake will. It only takes about ten to fifteen minutes of sunlight for your body to take in the vitamin. After this time you should apply a sunscreen of at least and SPF of 15 to protect your skin. You want to expose your face, hands, arms, or back at least two times a week to the sunlight without sunscreen to get the adequate amount of vitamin D.

To make sure you do not get a vitamin D deficiency; allow yourself limited, unprotected exposure to the sun, eat a diet that’s rich in whole foods, take a multivitamin everyday to make sure you are filling in any gaps of vitamins you may not be getting enough of, and take a vitamin D supplement on a daily basis. You can also see your health care provider to get tested to see if you are vitamin D deprived and come up with a plan to get you on the right track.

The US Recommended Daily Allowance for Vitamin D is:

*Infants, children and adults up to 50 years of age – 200 IU of Vitamin D per day
*Pregnant and lactating women of all ages, 200 IU of Vitamin D per day
*Adults 51 to 70 years old, 400 IU of Vitamin D per day
*Adults above 70 years old, 600 IU of Vitamin D per day


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