Responsible for maintaining the body safe, Vitamin D has also a strong impact on mental health.
When the winter arrives in the Northern Hemisphere it brings shorter days and much less sun, which can be challenging for body and mental health.
This may be related to low vitamin D in the blood due to the lack of sun. Vitamin D is essential for bones, muscles, and the immune system and even to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
It is through the vitamin D that we absorb calcium and phosphorus; thus becoming also a strong ally to maintain mental health. Lack of vitamin D can increase the risk of depression by up to 75% in older people, according to a research published in 2019, by the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.
When it comes to vitamin D deficiency in winter periods (when the days are much shorter and exposure to the sun is much less), and its impact on mental health, nutritionist Bruno Lima, a resident of the Northern Hemisphere for 17 years, gives the hint of the Mediterranean diet, “The diet that mostly resembles the healthy eating behavior which may lessen symptoms of depression and anxiety is the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in vegetables and fruits, legumes and fish every week. Keeping low in the consumption of red and processed meats and alcoholic beverages also helps. Fatty fish, fortified milk, cheese, egg yolk, and mushrooms are rich in vitamin D.”
With the exception of egg, foods that replenish vitamin D are not as ordinary in the pantry, like: liver, oysters, sardines and mushrooms. That said, supplementation is very necessary. It is also important to be up to date with the tests to see the level of vitamin D in the blood (which should be between 30 ng / mL and 100 ng / mL). However, only good food is not able to replace this decrease during the winter; the practice of physical exercises and supplementation are crucial in the equation.
Food + Exercising + Supplementation = a healthy way of life in winter
During the winter months, people may tend to eat more or not pay too much attention to their diet. It’s extremely important to maintain a healthy weight during those months and to continue eating as healthy as possible. People tend to stay inside their homes more often during winter but doing physical activities for at least 30 minutes a day play a major role in maintaining a healthy weight and keeping the body active. Another important factor is vitamin D supplementation, if your blood levels are below 30 ng / mL:
“For the ones who don’t get to see the sun each day of the year, vitamin D supplementation is very important. There’s no food that replaces vitamin D with sun exposure. It is important to be exposed to the sun every day. The ideal time is between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., when there is a greater production in the body. For those who can’t expose themselves to the sun every day, the best thing is to supplement. The ideal supplementation dose would be at least 2000 IU per day combined with food (lunch, coffee or dinner) because vitamin D is fat-soluble; it needs fat to be absorbed, so you have to take it with food. “, points out the doctor Dayan Siebra.