The famous vitamin D, which is not actually a vitamin, but a hormone, can perform several functions that benefit not only bone health (as we are used to seeing), but also the central nervous system, as some research indicates, contributing to the maintenance of brain activities and treatment against mental pathologies, such as depression.
In this text, we will quickly talk about the benefits of vitamin D for the body, the risks that a deficiency of this hormone can cause and the impact it can have on mental health. Let’s go?
Benefits of Vitamin D
Defined as a hormone that promotes the absorption of calcium by the body, vitamin D is not so easy to find in a common diet. However, know that our skin is capable of producing this vitamin when it is in contact with the sun’s rays. Therefore, the most abundant source of vitamin D is the sun, an element, so to speak, accessible to all of us. But remember: exposure time must always be well controlled to avoid complications and guarantee health benefits.
There are two types of vitamin D: D3 and D2. D3 is found in animals, including fish, and is also the type that our skin produces when exposed to the sun. D2 comes from plant foods and mushrooms. Studies show that vitamin D3 is the most efficient and the number 1 choice when taking dietary supplements.
Now that you know a little more about vitamin D, it’s time to discover what it can do for your health:
- Help with calcium absorption and keep bones healthy;
- Assist the brain in sending information throughout the body.
- Act on muscle performance;
- Support the immune system in fighting infections.
Vitamin D deficiency
In this text, we need to highlight the importance of combating vitamin D deficiency, as it is a serious condition that results in changes that affect both skeletal and neuromuscular functions and extra-skeletal functions, such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and other diseases. , such as depression and schizophrenia.
Low levels of vitamin D can reduce the amount of calcium in the body, causing reduced bone density and the risk of rickets in babies and children. The weakening of bones is a major concern for those who have a deficiency of this vitamin in their bodies, especially the elderly population, who are more prone to suffering fractures and osteoporosis compared to the general population. Low vitamin D can also cause muscle weakness and fatigue, in addition to reducing the efficiency of mitochondria, the cells responsible for energy production.
Vitamin D’s Effect on Mental Health
Vitamin D has several functions in the central nervous system. This hormone acts to regulate neurotransmitters and can increase neurotropic factors, favoring all brain activity. In other words, supplementation of this vitamin in patients with depression can lead to improvement in symptoms.
Furthermore, vitamin D is capable of reducing concentrations of inflammatory mediators associated with depression. In fact, in some brain areas related to this disease, there are receptors for vitamin D. In this way, the association between deficiency of this nutrient and the development of depressive disorders can be diagnosed.
Furthermore, did you know that people who are little exposed to sunlight have more sleep problems and less well-being compared to those who receive sunlight for a longer period of time? One of the reasons for this to occur is that exposure to sunlight throughout the day acts to balance the circadian rhythm, which needs light and dark to function correctly. Therefore, a lack of sunlight can harm both physical and mental health.
Speaking of mental health, studies show that natural lighting increases the production of serotonin (that well-being hormone), which regulates sleep, mood and appetite, among other aspects. This explains why the population of countries that experience harsher winters are more likely to develop seasonal depression, which is directly associated with the lack of natural lighting. This is why, in other types of treatment for depression, sun exposure is recommended.
The exact path that vitamin D takes to stimulate our well-being is not yet known, but the theory is that vitamin D receptors (found in various parts of the brain and related to the circadian system) have an influence on in controlling the body’s hormonal levels.
Vitamin D is a very important hormone for the health of the entire body. With the sun as your main ally in providing its benefits, we can also count on supplementation in our routine.
However, always reinforcing that the introduction of any supplement into the diet must be supervised by a professional. It’s time to open the window and let the light in! With vitamin D, we become happier people and more willing to face everyday challenges.