Researchers from Australia and Pittsburgh have found that avoidance of a simple everyday thing may inadvertently contribute to depression.
A lack of vitamin D can compromise mental health. Now let’s talk about why.
Australian and American researchers have found a link between seasonal affective disorder (‘SAD’) and a lack of sunlight (a source of vitamin D).
As explained by associate professor Alan Stewart, ‘Seasonal affective disorder is believed to affect up to 10 percent of the population, depending on geographical location, and is a type of depression related to changes in season.’
People with SAD have the same symptoms every year from autumn through the winter months.
According to the research, vitamin D is likely to be a contributing factor in seasonal depression.
This makes sense for a number of reasons:
- Vitamin D levels in the body fluctuate depending on season and seasonally available sunlight. There is 8 weeks between the peak in intensity of UV radiation and the onset of SAD- the amount same time is takes for the body to convert UV radiation into vitamin D.
- Vitamin D plays a part in the synthesis of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Low levels of these chemicals are linked to depression.
- Studies have found that depressed people had lower levels of vitamin D.
Maintaining the right level of vitamin D is important for optimal mental health. For most people, a few minutes of sunlight a day should be all it takes.