Many researchers have found that vitamin deficiencies are linked to mental health issues such as depression. The most common vitamin deficiencies that are linked to depression are Vitamin D and Vitamin B deficiencies.
Vitamin D, when researched, was found to have a connection with depressed individuals. It was found that individuals who are vitamin D deficient are more likely to be depressed. This is because vitamin D helps increase serotonin production and release serotonin which is a “happy” hormone.
Low serotonin levels can result in decreased motivation, feelings of sadness, depression, anxiety, bursts of anger, and may even cause suicidal thoughts. In addition, lower levels of serotonin can result in sleep deprivation since serotonin becomes melatonin (a hormone released at night to cause sleepiness) at night.
Just like vitamin D, other B vitamins play a significant role in affecting our mood. Low levels of B vitamins, may cause depression since it affects our mood and other brain functions. It was found that low levels of vitamin B12 in the body of individuals are found to be experiencing mental health issues. Another B vitamin that is linked to depression is folate or also known as Vitamin B9.
Risk Factors for Vitamin Deficiency
There are a few risk factors that can increase your risk of having vitamin deficiencies, one of which is your diet and age.
You get a lot of your vitamins through your diet. And not eating properly will result in multiple vitamin deficiencies that can cause not only mental health problems but also physical illnesses. You can reduce the risk of vitamin deficiencies by eating properly in order to get your vitamins.
There are not a lot of foods that are naturally rich in vitamin D, but a few of them are salmon, fish liver oils, animal fat, mackerel, and even other vitamin D-fortified foods like cereal and orange juice. While for vitamin B, you can eat chicken, red meats, shellfish, spinach, kale, and even milk (but in moderation).
You can also try out supplements to help you increase your vitamin intake since not everyone is able to eat so much food.
Limited to No Sun Exposure
This only goes for vitamin D since sunlight helps increase the production of vitamin D. So, with limited sun exposure, you’re increasing your risk of becoming vitamin D deficient.
Age can be a contributing factor to vitamin D deficiency since your body becomes less efficient at producing vitamin D when you get older.
Treating Vitamin Deficiencies to Aid Depression
Get Enough Sun Exposure
One of the best ways to increase your vitamin D is by getting enough sunlight. However, ensure that you’re not overdoing it since too much sun exposure can also result in skin cancer.
When you go under the sun, make sure to use sunscreen to prevent the harsh UV rays to penetrate your skin. Also, it would be best to get sunlight during its non-peak hours.
Eat Food High in Vitamins
As mentioned, you should eat foods that are naturally rich in vitamin D and B in order to reduce your risk of vitamin deficiency. This is especially needed for vitamin B since vitamin B is not a naturally produced hormone in our bodies.
Exercising helps to increase your endorphin levels which triggers a positive and happy feeling, similar to morphine. Similar to serotonin and dopamine, endorphin is like a “happy” hormone.
Get Enough Sleep
A solid night’s rest can be a crucial aspect of your depression management strategy. When you’re well-rested, you’ll have more energy, as well as a more positive outlook on life and better concentration.
Vitamins, especially vitamin D and B are vital nutrients to keep both your mental and physical well-being intact. Low levels of these vitamins can cause our mental and physical health to decline. So, in order to avoid that, eat healthily, exercise, get enough sun, and drink your supplements!
If you’re experiencing mental health problems, it’s important to reach out to a professional.