Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that is essential to both your body and health. It keeps your bones strong, assists with cell growth, offers immune support and is crucial for healthy brain function. Brady Guest, Pharm D candidate, discusses this sought-after supplement and the vital role it may play in our mental health and overall well-being.
What the data says
Unfortunately, the studies and data involving vitamin D, mental health and depression are contradictory. Some research has shown that patients who have diagnosed depression tend to have lower vitamin D levels. However, other studies have revealed that patients with depression, who take vitamin D supplements at various strengths, do not show a significant improvement with their depressive symptoms.
What this means
Vitamin D supplementation can be beneficial. Research has found an association between low vitamin D levels and depression. Therefore, ensuring you are receiving enough vitamin D, either through your diet or supplements, is highly recommended.
Where to get it
While there are very few foods that contain vitamin D, and the ones that do only have a small amount, items such as salmon, tuna and dairy products are excellent sources that someone can easily obtain through their diet.
Most people typically get vitamin D through sunlight or UVB radiation. This exposure helps to activate the vital nutrient within the skin to a form your body can utilize. With that said, sunscreen can block UVB radiation, so weighing the benefits and potential risks here is important.
Lastly, dietary supplements are another common way people can get vitamin D, but it’s important to consult your physician before starting any new regimens.
Vitamin D typically measures in international units (IU) or micrograms (mcg). The average person ages 1-70 should take 600 IU, or 15 mcg, of vitamin D daily. Those older than 70 years of age should increase their intake to 800 IU each day.
Overall, people should be aware of the health benefits that vitamin D has to offer. But, before starting something new, it’s best to speak with a primary care provider to see what will work best for you and if a vitamin D supplement is necessary.
Office of Dietary Supplements - Vitamin D [Internet]. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2021 [cited 2021Jun29].
Vitamin D [Internet]. The Nutrition Source. The President and Fellows of Harvard College; 2021 [cited 2021Jun29]. A