Vitamin D – The happy hormone – Start your day in the best mood
Soaking up the sun’s rays could be more important to your health than you realise. It’s our main source of vitamin D, which our bodies need for strong bones, muscle function, a healthy immune system and to help lift our moods.
“Vitamin D is believed to play a significant role in the production of serotonin, a chemical found in the brain,” says James. “Serotonin is known as the “happy hormone” and fluctuating levels are known to influence mood. Deficient levels have been strongly linked to low mood and depression. Therefore, increasing vitamin D could improve serotonin levels.”
Vitamin D deficiency: Vitamin D deficiency is common in the UK. While a lack of sunshine could contribute to this, there are other causes as well.
Obesity: Vitamin D is absorbed by fat cells, so the more fat in the body, the lower the levels in the blood.
Dark skin: People with darker skin are prone to vitamin D deficiency because melanin, the pigment that makes skin dark, prevents the body from using the sun’s rays to make vitamin D.
Absorption problems: Conditions that affect the gut could reduce the body’s ability to absorb vitamin D from your diet. Coeliac disease, crohn’s disease and cystic fibrosis also impact on vitamin D absorption.
Kidney disease: The kidneys play an important role in making vitamin D, so deficiencies could occur in people with kidney disease.
Vitamin D in your diet
Vitamin D is mostly found in animal-based products – fish and fish oils, egg yolks, cheese, and beef liver – so following a vegan/strict vegetarian diet could put you at risk of deficiency. You could also get vitamin D from multivitamins.
5 steps to lift your mood
Getting active is the simplest way to release happiness-inducing endorphins into your body, whilst also improving health and muscle tone.
Sharing your woes with an understanding friend or family member can help to rationalize any problems and find solutions.
3. Take action
Completing a task can give you a positive sense of achievement, so give yourself a goal and work towards it.
4. Take a supplement
Vitamin D supplements and exposure to light using light boxes could reduce depressive symptoms.
5. Enjoy life
Having something to look forward to could help lift your mood and be a pleasant break from your day-to-day routine. Indulging in the occasional, guilty pleasure could be all that’s needed.
Written by Dr James Thompson, a GP who works in private and NHS surgeries in London and the East Midlands.