Have you been reading the majority of the articles in the magazine thus far? It should come as no surprise that I am here writing about our big ole shiny star, the sun. As a result of my education and continual learning about health care, I’ve taken a position. That is getting adequate sun every day of our lives is the number one way to impact your health positively. Aside from it’s signal to the body to synthesize vitamin D, it also runs the entire show when it comes to hormones. So how does the sun play a role in mental health?
First and foremost, sunlight triggers the production of melatonin. The more sun you get, the more melatonin your body will make. Ever wonder why after a couple hours at the beach you’re exhausted? Mystery solved. While of course good sleep is essential to overall health- there is an even closer relationship to mental wellness. Serotonin and melatonin are hormones that are likened to fraternal twins. They are ONE biochemical enzymatic reaction apart. That means with the right enzyme, melatonin can become serotonin and vice versa.
Most people know that melatonin is essential for sleep regulation, but do most people know the importance of serotonin? Serotonin is an important chemical and neurotransmitter in the human body. It is believed to help regulate mood and social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual desire and function. There is a link between low serotonin and depression.
Depression in its own right is a disabling condition impairing all aspects of human function. Vitamin D has been reported in the scientific and lay press as an important factor. To having significant health benefits in the prevention it can have the treatment of many chronic illnesses. Most individuals in this country have insufficient levels of vitamin D. This is also true for persons with depression. Also including other mental disorders. There has been research examining the relationship of vitamin D to seasonal effective disorder, schizophrenia, and depression.
There is an acknowledgement that more research is still needed on the importance of vitamin D and its impact on mental wellness. Also exercising outdoors in the sunshine and eating foods rich in vitamin D could improve one’s mental well being. This means that it would be a simple and cost-effective solution for many who are at risk for mental disorders.
As I’ve written before, I do not recommend supplementing vitamin D as a supplement on its own. Taking exogenous vitamin D disables the body’s natural synthesis of this process. Getting adequate sunlight (without sunblock and sunglasses) and eating foods rich in vitamin D are the best ways to ensure enough for all our health needs. Just remember… the sun is healing, there is a reason being outside in the summer makes us all smile.