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Lift your mood with vitamin D

Updated on April 2, 2012

Stay positive this winter with help from the sunshine pill

It’s vital for our health and wellbeing, yet many of us are vitamin D deficient. Fortunately, you can source vitamin D from your diet.

Vitamin D for our health

We need vitamin D for strong bones and muscle function. It also supports cells and assists our body to use the calcium and phosphorus obtained from our food. Yet experts estimate about half the UK is vitamin D deficient and when low levels of vitamin D contribute to bad moods and symptoms of depression, this could make us a grumpy lot.

“The main cause of vitamin D deficiency is lack of exposure to sunshine,” explains Alison Wyndham, a physiotherapist and complementary health practitioner. “We don’t get much sunshine in this country and when we do we’re encouraged to apply sunscreen to prevent cancer. However, it’s not the sun that gives us cancer, it’s sunburn and these sunscreens completely block the absorption of vitamin D.”

Natural sources of vitamin D

The sun is our main source of vitamin D, but we can also get it from our diet. The richest sources are oily fish, such as kippers, mackerel, canned salmon, sardines, tuna, and cod liver oil. You can also get vitamin D2 in mushrooms and by taking a daily multivitamin

The Sunshine drug

Our bodies synthesize vitamin D as vitamin D3 from sunshine. “All you need is 15-20 minutes in the sun to get all the vitamin D you need on a daily basis,” says Alison. However, during winter, lack of sunshine and dark days means we’re missing out.

“Vitamin D helps increase the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that, when low in the body, is associated with mood disorders, such as depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD),” explains Alison. “A lack of vitamin D means we’re not increasing our serotonin levels, the mood enhancing neurotransmitter, which could put us in a bad mood.”

Lift your mood

A good night’s sleep could lighten your mood, as could taking a day off work to clear your mind. Lift your mood with Alison’s top tips:

  • Get active
    Exercise releases endorphins which are also neurotransmitters. These interact with opiate receptors in the brain to give you a feeling of wellbeing.
  • Meditate
    Meditation also releases endorphins and affects the area of the brain associated with happiness and positive feelings.

  • Take a vitamin D supplement
    Vitamin D3 is vital for your immune system so it’s a good vitamin to take during winter and at stressful times.

  • Hit the high notes
    Joining a choir is a great way to lift your mood. But if singing in public’s a bit daunting, belting out a tune in the shower should do the trick.

  • A good rub
    Massage increases endorphins so massaging your partner could lift your mood. It could even result in sex which is a great mood enhancer!

Written by Alison Wyndham - a physiotherapist, complementary health practitioner and owner of the Wyndham Centres.

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