We Need Vitamin D!

The sunshine vitamin, vitamin D or cholecalciferol is the only vitamin the human body can make. Vitamin D is believed to be linked to basic cognitive function, mood and mental health. It is also essential for immune and cardiovascular health, regulating cell growth and increase calcium and phosphorous absorption to maintain strong bones. We need Vitamin D and the recommended intake for adults increases with age. (Click here to learn more on intake amounts).

Vitamin D activates receptors in parts of the brain responsible for regulating behavior. Experts say that increasing the amounts of cholecalciferol, which is active in the blood stream from sunlight, has been associated with a more positive mood in those with depression. There are risk factors for having low Vitamin D including getting older, being overweight and having a chronic condition. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry performed a study showing that a deficiency in this vitamin was associated with a poor mood disorder and poor cognitive testing.

It is estimated that 75% of Americans may not be getting enough Vitamin D. This may be because of the fact that Americans fear exposure to direct sunlight due to the risk of skin cancer. If you are not able to get outside, some vitamin D rich foods you can consume are salmon, sardines, shrimp, milk, cod or eggs. You can also consider taking a daily supplement – consult your doctor about the correct dosage.

If you choose to be outdoors, make sure to wear sunscreen! It only takes about 10 minutes of sunlight exposure to get your daily dose of vitamin D. The American Academy of Dermatology’s website has great tips for sun exposure and information on sunscreen.

The author of this blog post is Litchfield RN Case Manager, Stacy Nieland.