We're living in strange times. This post isn't to suggest that things would be better if everyone in the USA were getting their recommended dosage of vitamin D. More like Hey country, there is something relatively simple that you can do to help yourself feel better.
I grew up in a household that was holistic before it was a household phrase. My mom plied us with vitamins and we popped vitamin C capsules like candy. As an adult, I've retained an affinity for vitamins and supplements ... I'm just a little more intentional and a little less cavalier about it.
I do believe that I get the majority of what I need via my daily diet, but there are always areas that could use boosting. One such area for me, and apparently 77% of the United States population, is vitamin D.
Vitamin D, aka the "sunshine vitamin" is produced in our skin in response to sunlight. It's fat-soluble and can affect up to 2000 genes in our bodies. Regulating absorption of calcium and phosphorus while facilitating normal immune function are just a couple of the effects of vitamin D. However, it's not found naturally in many foods--salmon, sardines, egg yolk, and shrimp are the main ones--so when the sun goes down, it's easy to fall into a deficiency.
Vitamin D in the Frozen Tundra
Living in Minnesota, we're at the time of year when the days are getting shorter and the nights are longer. Soon, it'll be dark when I leave my house for work, and dark when I walk out of the office as well. Those few glimpses of sunlight I might get during the workday, in addition to whatever I can pop into my diet, aren't enough vitamin D to get through the winter. Here's why it matters:
Vitamin D fights diseases
Healthline details the specific studies but in addition to reducing the risk of MS, it has been shown to decrease the chances of developing heart disease and getting the flu. You know, short and long term views.
Vitamin D reduces depression
Various studies have shown that vitamin D aids in relieving feelings of anxiety and depression. Over fall and winter, I can't count how many discussions I have with people who are feeling tired, rundown, etc. despite claiming to be sleeping even more than normal. Winter hibernation is one thing, but some of these inclinations can be helped with a little boost.
Vitamin D boosts weight loss
While the studies don't seem to form a consensus that people lose more weight, it does seem that vitamin D supplements could act as an appetite suppressant. With this in mind, it helps people to focus on their hobbies and staying active instead of vegging with Netflix all winter long.
While NIH provides some guidelines for dosage, consult a doctor before embarking on a vitamin D overhaul. And stay mindful of your own behavior as it changes with the seasons!