For all of us who live in the northern part of the US, here we are in the throes of winter, a time of year when many of us are weathering snowstorms and seasonal blues. The sun only rarely shows itself, and the cumulative effects can wear us down mentally and physically. But did you know a Vitamin D deficiency, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is likely to blame?
Vitamin D is beneficial for both our physical and mental health
That’s right, we’re quick to point fingers at the sun and lambast it for its skin-damaging ways, but what about the many health benefits of intentional and mindful sun exposure? What if the sunshine vitamin was not only beneficial, but necessary for a healthy mind, body, and soul? Well it is, and here’s why. . .
Vitamin D is a grouping of fat-soluble secosteroids that help your body with calcium and phosphorus absorption. Vitamin D is actually a hormone, rather than a vitamin. The body makes most of the vitamin D it needs. Vitamin D is essential for maintaining strong bones, it helps your immune system battle infection, and it even enables your cells to communicate more effectively for overall health. If this isn’t convincing enough to showcase the wonders of vitamin D, just remember the sunshine vitamin also serves as a natural mood and energy enhancer . Add it up and we’ve got an essential substance that we just cannot afford to live without.
Children and elderly are most susceptible to Vitamin D deficiency
And some are at a greater risk than others when it comes to a deficiency in vitamin D and its dangers. As it turns out, the elderly and children are more susceptible to vitamin D deficiency and its adverse effects. “[Vitamin D deficiency] can lead to demineralization of bones and osteomalacia—softening of the bones—in more prolonged cases,” says Dr. Melanie Levesque. “Symptoms such as pain and tenderness, skeletal fractures, muscle weakness, and difficulty walking may occur in more severe cases. In children, severe vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets, although this is uncommon in most developed countries.”
So if you experience symptoms that point to a vitamin D deficiency, consider taking a good long walk and feel the warm sun kiss your back. It’s important to remember that mindful sun exposure is not only helpful, but necessary for the uptake of vitamin D and all-around mental and physical health.
More on that topic: Vitamin D Deficiency and Seasonal Affective Disorder