Exposing your skin to the sun to get vitamin D enhances your mood and energy. Generally, a little bit of sun exposure is linked to a better mood, while tanners commonly report feeling more relaxed than non-tanners. One research study found that β-endorphins increase after sun exposure, and β-endorphins make you feel good! Thus, those feeling depressed should try to spend some time in the sun when one’s shadow is shorter than one’s height, daily if possible.
Key points from research
· Research shows a link between low levels of vitamin D in the blood and symptoms of depression.
· However, research hasn’t yet shown clearly whether low vitamin D levels cause depression, or whether low vitamin D levels develop because someone is depressed.
· Lack of vitamin D may be one of many factors that contribute to a depressed mood.
· The effects of vitamin D on depression may take a long time to work, years for example. This means that research carried out over short periods of time may not show any impact of vitamin D on depression.
· People who have depression go outdoors less, so they are less likely to have adequate vitamin D in their blood.
· Some researchers have suggested that giving vitamin D supplements may work for depression when someone has very low levels of vitamin D to begin with. Taking a vitamin D supplement would not help people who already have sufficient vitamin D levels.
If you have depression you shouldn’t take vitamin D in place of other treatments or anti-depressant medicines. Speak to your physician for more advice about treatments and taking supplements.