Sunlight Vitamin D And Mental Health
Schizophrenia has been associated with inadequate sun exposure and vitamin D deficiency . Schizophrenia is more common in the Scandinavian countries., Winter births have been associated with an increased risk for developing schizophrenia later in life even in Australia., In British immigrants, incidence in schizophrenia is higher in children of immigrants from the Caribbean who moved to cities in countries farther North. Finnish male infants who received 2000 IUs of vitamin D daily during their first year of life reduced their risk of developing schizophrenia by 77% compared with infants who received less than 2000 IUs of vitamin D daily.
Figure 73. Association between latitude and schizophrenia prevalence on several continents. Reproduced with permission from.
Vitamin D could play an indirect role in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. Several studies suggest that a prenatal influenza exposure increases the risk for schizophrenia later in life.- The vitamin D status seems to influence the risk for an influenza infection respectively vitamin D supplementation has proven to decrease the risk for influenza infection. 24118,119,121
How To Get The Most From The Sun
If youre trying to boost your skin synthesis of vitamin D, here are a couple of tips to help you:
Expose your skin during peak times. Especially in the summer months, the sun is strongest around mid-day , meaning it emits the strongest UVB rays and therefore is most effective to produce vitamin D.
A study in the UK found that just 13 minutes of sunlight to 35% of the skin at midday during the summer months is enough to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D in Caucasian adults 4.
Another study found that 30 minutes of midday summer sun exposure was equivalent to consuming 10,00020,000 IU of vitamin D 5.
Spend more time in the sun if youre far from the equator. Because the earths ozone layer absorbs a lot of the UVB rays from the sun, people who live farther away from the equator should spend more time in the sun to produce enough vitamin D 6.
And for people who live in colder climates, vitamin D synthesis in the skin may not happen for up to six months of the year, making supplementation all the more critical.
Sunlight And Vitamin D: Innate Immune Health
Cod liver oil was used in the mid-1800s to treat tuberculosis.,, In the early 1900s heliotherapy was promoted for treating both skin and pulmonary tuberculosis., It was also recognized that young children with rickets had a much higher risk of developing pneumonia and upper respiratory tract infections and were more likely to die of them.,,, Therefore sun exposure and vitamin D were used in the early 1900s to treat and prevent tuberculosis,, and upper respiratory tract infections.
Figure 60. The seasonal and latitudinal distribution of outbreaks of type A influenza in the world, 19641975, summarized from the Weekly Epidemiological Record of the World Health Organization into major zones. The diagrams show for each calendar month the percentage of each zone’s total outbreaks. In both north and south temperate zones the epidemics are distributed around the local midwinter, whereas the tropical zones show a transition, each approximating toward the distribution of its own temperate zone. The curve indicates the midsummer path taken annually by vertical solar radiation. The epidemic path seems to parallel it, but to lag 6 mo behind it. Reproduced with permission from.
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Excessive Tiredness And Fatigue
If youâre overly lethargic, weak, and fatigued, low vitamin D levels in your body could be to blame. In a 2015 study, scientists showed that extreme vitamin D deficiency can cause serious fatigue that can affect oneâs quality of life. In another 2010 research published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, researchers found that extremely low blood levels of vitamin D can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness . This is a symptom of hypersomnia often linked to chronic fatigue.
Even vitamin D blood levels that aren’t extremely low can hurt your energy levels, as noted by another 2013 study involving 80 women. At the end of the study, researchers reported that vitamin D sufficient participants were less likely to experience fatigue than their vitamin D insufficient counterparts.
The good news is that getting enough vitamin D from the sun or taking supplements can ameliorate fatigue and excessive tiredness. This seems to be corroborated by the same 2010 study mentioned above, in which a 28-year-old lady managed to alleviate these symptoms by improving her vitamin D blood levels to 39 ng/ml in a period of 4 months.
Itâs important to note that tiredness and fatigue can have multiple other causes, including sedentary lifestyle, high-carbs diet, sleep deprivation, poor hydration, and food intolerances.
When Do I Need Sun Protection
Sun protection is recommended when the UV Index is 3 or above, or when spending extended periods of time outdoors. Sunscreen should be incorporated into your daily morning routine on these days.
UV radiation levels in northern areas of Australia are generally higher than in southern areas, so in some parts of the country, sun protection is needed all year round, whenever the UV Index is 3 or higher. In these areas, it is safe to go outside without sun protection early morning and late afternoon when the UV Index falls below 3.
In some southern areas of Australia, there are times of the year when sun protection may not be necessary, generally late autumn and winter. If you live in an area where the UV Index falls below 3 during these months, you do not require sun protection, unless you are at high altitudes or near highly reflective surfaces like snow, work outdoors, or are outside for extended periods.
To check UV levels and the times sun protection is required, look at the UV Index in the weather section of your daily newspaper, on the Bureau of Meteorology website or download Cancer Council’s free SunSmart app to your mobile device. When UV levels are below 3 no UV Alert is issued.
Several studies have shown that sunscreen use has minimal impact on Vitamin D levels over time.
Which Foods Contain Vitamin D
Our foods dont naturally have vitamin D, there are very few foods that do. So, you can have fortified foods in your diet, Qureshi explains.
The good news is foods fortified with the nutrient, meaning products with added vitamins, are often household staples.
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In Canada, cows milk and margarine must be fortified with vitamin D. Goats milk, certain soy beverages, cheese, yogurt and orange juice are also often fortified.
Foods that naturally contain the nutrient are limited to fatty fish, such as salmon or tuna, and egg yolks.
The Dietitians of Canada association lists on its website exactly how much vitamin D each food contains.
What Happens If You Dont Get Enough Vitamin D In Your Body
Vitamin D deficiency is a shockingly common nutritional problem, affecting nearly 1 billion around the globe. This may be partly fuelled by the fact that some groups of the population are more susceptible to low vitamin D levels.
Once again, the elderly, obese, breastfed infants, dark-skinned people, and those who suffer from celiac disease, Crohnâs disease, and other metabolic disorders may be more prone to vitamin D deficiency. If you donât go outdoors often, always wear sunblock, or live in an area that rarely receives sunshine or has only weak daytime sun, you may also be at risk of low vitamin D.
The short-term and long-term effects of vitamin D deficiency could be serious. Here are common health complications and symptoms that you will experience if you donât have enough vitamin D in your blood.
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Tips For Optimizing Your Natural Vitamin D Production
The sun offers you free vitamin D! Take advantage of this with a few tips for squeezing more vitamin D from the sun.
These tips for absorbing more vitamin D from the sun are especially beneficial to anyone who lives further from the equator, is older in age, has darker skin, cannot get sun during midday, or cant afford supplements or vacations to sunnier weather in winter seasons.
In Part 4 of this series, we are going to examine the little known connection between vitamin D, sleep disorders, and Alzheimers disease. You wont want to miss this It could be the missing link to your best health yet!
Expose More Skin To Speed Up Vitamin D Production
Cholesterol is converted into vitamin D when your skin is exposed to Ultraviolet B rays from the sun. Thatâs the main reason why youâd be better off exposing as much skin as possible to sunlight to make adequate amounts of vitamin D.
More specifically, experts generally agree that you expose about one-third of your skin surface area to sunlight. For people with pale color skin, going out in the sun during summer in bouts of 10 to 30 minutes thrice per week should be plenty if they wear shorts and a tank top. It’s also okay to use sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat to safeguard your eyes and face when you expose other body parts.
If your skin is darker â for instance, you have got an Asian, African-Caribbean, or African background — you might want to stay out a bit longer in the sun.â
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Damage Before You Know It
An Easy Pill to Swallow.
The truth is, it doesnt take much sun exposure for the body to produce vitamin D. Even committed proponents of unprotected sun exposure recommend no more than 10 to 15 minutes of exposure to arms, legs, abdomen and back, two to three times a week, followed by good sun protection. That minor amount of exposure produces all the vitamin D your body can muster. After that, your body automatically starts to dispose of vitamin D to avoid an overload of the vitamin, at which point your sun exposure is giving you nothing but sun damage without any of the presumed benefit.
The thing is, even just those unprotected 10 or 15 minutes are way more than enough time to cause DNA damage, and every bit of this damage adds up throughout your lifetime, producing more and more genetic mutations that keep increasing your lifetime risk of skin cancer. Unfortunately, the very same UVB wavelengths that make the body synthesize vitamin D are also the wavelengths that produce sunburn and genetic mutations that can lead to skin cancer.
And thats not to mention the damage caused by the suns longer-wave UVA radiation , the key UV rays behind premature skin aging as well as a cause of skin cancer. A 2015 study published in Science found that UVA damage can start in less than a minute in the sun. The damage to the skins pigment cells actually keeps developing hours after the sun exposure ends. Melanocyte damage can lead to melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Vitamin D Source: Food
Considering the above skin cancer concerns, what is the best way to absorb Vitamin D? Most people can get adequate amounts of Vitamin D from food and nutritional supplements.6
The bad news: only a few foods naturally contain Vitamin D, including the following:7
- Fatty fish and fish liver oils
- Beef liver
- Egg yolks
The good news: eating Vitamin D-fortified foods can increase your intake of this nutrient.
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/10the Body Parts To Expose In Sun To Get More Vitamin D
Vitamin D is made from cholesterol in the skin, which means one needs to expose lots of skin to sunlight to get enough vitamin D.
Expose your arms, legs, back and abdomen to get more vitamin D. Do not forget to expose your back as it allows your body to produce the maximum vitamin D.
You can choose to wear a tank top and shorts. You must wear your hat and goggles to protect your face and eyes.
Fact: Vitamin D Helps Support Your Immune System
To keep your immune system functioning at its best, youll want to make sure youre getting enough vitamin D.
Thats because, according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, vitamin D may help mitigate the harmful inflammatory response of certain white blood cells, as well as increase the immune cells production of microbe-fighting proteins. Adults who have low vitamin D levels are more likely to report having experienced a recent cold, cough, or upper respiratory tract infection.
Clinical trials have found that vitamin D supplementation can reduce the amount of illnesses that children develop, says McTiernan, referring to past research on influenza. And a meta-analysis published in February 2017 in the BMJ yielded two points: One, people who took vitamin D supplements were 12 percent less likely to develop acute respiratory infections compared with people who didnt. And two, the authors found that for those with a severe vitamin D deficiency, taking vitamin D supplements lowered their respiratory infection risk by 70 percent.
Because of the potential benefits to the immune system, some people have been quick to assume vitamin D could work as a potential COVID-19 prevention tool or therapy, but its still too early to say. According to Harvard, there is no good evidence on the topic because it is such a new virus. Still, they suggest its wise to keep your levels out of the low range.
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May Lead To Bone And Back Pain
Vitamin D deficiency can have a negative impact on your skeletal health. After all, the micronutrient plays a major role in the absorption of two pro-bone health minerals, phosphorus, and calcium.
Low bone calcium reserves, as a result of low vitamin D levels in the body, can cause low bone density and osteoporosis. This can lead to chronic joint, back, and general bone pain.
In one study involving 9,000 women, scientists witnessed that those with vitamin D deficiency were more likely to complain of back pain than vitamin D-sufficient participants. This highlights the need to obtain an adequate amount of vitamin D from the sun, natural food, and supplements.
These Are All Of The Factors That Make It Hard To Get Enough Vitamin D From The Sun
Given its nickname as the “sunshine vitamin,” you’d think you could get all of the vitamin D you need from good ol’ sunlight. And while your body does produce vitamin D when your skin is exposed to a specific range of the sun’s UVB rays , getting ample amounts of the nutrient from that golden light isn’t as simple as it might seem.
In fact, several factors make it pretty darn hard to get enough vitamin D from the sun alone. Not to mention, excessive and regular unprotected sun exposure could ultimately spell more trouble for our health than it’s worth.
Who might be able to get the job done with sunshine alone: “People who live closer to the equator, have lighter skin, and who get outside in when it’s spring and summer,” notes functional nutrition dietitian Whitney Crouch, RDN, CLT. Unless you meet all of these criteria, though, well, it’s not looking good. And even then, there’s the whole lifetime exposure risk thing just ask your dermatologist.
Here’s a breakdown of the different factors that can make it hard to get all of the vitamin D you need from the sun.
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Advantages And Disadvantages Of Sunlight
If modern humans continue to live indoors and stay out of the sun to avoid premature aging and skin cancer, we must find a way to replace the suns essential energy if we are to continue to thrive. Recent attention has been given to vitamin D supplementation as a possible solution because it is the one photoproduct that can be delivered in a pill form. But vitamin D isnt actually a vitamin at all its a pro-steroid hormone. Very few foods contain measurable amounts of vitamin D. The human body was designed to make its own vitamin D through the skin when exposed to sunlight, as opposed to absorbing this important hormone through the digestive system.
It is important to avoid excessive doses of oral vitamin D. If vitamin D intake is too high, it can cause elevated blood calcium levels, vitamin D toxicity, and potentially dangerous consequences. Unlike with oral supplements, you cannot overdose on vitamin D3 produced by your skin. If you have enough vitamin D, your body will simply produce less. Using light for making vitamin D allows your body to self-regulate vitamin D production and make as much as it needs to stay healthy, without any risk of overdose or toxicity.
While the sun may be the best source of vitamin D, too much sun exposure has the potential to cause skin damage. Exactly how much sun is needed to receive advantage with minimal risk is difficult to determine on an individual basis considering the numerous factors of influence.