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Happiness and the importance of Vitamin D

Thankfully the days are beginning to get longer and lighter, letting us know spring is very much on its way. The short, dark winter days can be a particularly difficult time to feel motivated and happy, and there is science behind this.

Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin”, is one of the most important vitamins for health, playing a key role in bone health. Increasingly, research shows Vitamin D can play a role in depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Whilst not yet fully understood, Vitamin D receptors are found in the part of the brain that is linked to the development of depression. It enhances the body’s absorption of other vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and phosphate, and is believed to regulate cell growth, potentially playing a role in preventing illness such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

It is estimated over 90% of us are deficient in Vitamin D during the winter months, and our increased use of sunscreens mean that we may be inadvertently starving our bodies of this important vitamin. Whilst you don’t want to subject your skin to dangerous UV rays, it is important to get some natural Vitamin D from sunlight (through a pane of glass doesn’t count!) on a regular basis, getting out and about in the fresh air by itself can help to raise your mood.

You can also increase the number of foods containing Vitamin D in your diet. Foods rich in Vitamin D include wild salmon (half a fillet contains more than your recommended daily allowance), eggs, mushrooms, tinned tuna and sardines, orange juice and ricotta cheese, which contains five times the amount of Vitamin D compared to other cheeses!

Another good source is to use a Vitamin D supplement, particularly during the winter months, to increase levels in your body, but it is recommended you check with your doctor first who can do a blood test to check your levels.

February 29, 2016