When considering mental health and nutrition, one nutrient deserves an in-depth look: vitamin D.
Vitamin D intake is essential for the absorption and utilisation of many other nutrients required for mental stability and overall health and wellbeing. Additionally, vitamin D supports a healthy sleep cycle, which is imperative for mood and cognitive function.
Being the only vitamin that is also a hormone, vitamin D is essential for the proper utilisation and formation of other hormones in the body.
H2 Providing Insight for Health Care Practitioners
Vitamin D levels provide both you and your health care practitioners an incredible insight into your overall wellbeing. A test is conducted which analyses your levels of 25-hydroxy vitamin D, which basically means vitamin D in the way the body can use it.
The estimated values can be measured in nanograms per deciliter. This is how many units of vitamin D are in a particular amount of your blood. Some tests may conclude that a value of 20-30 ng/dL is the lower cut off point for “normal” vitamin D levels, however many practitioners say that at least 50 ng/dL is important for optimal health levels.
Known as the “sunshine vitamin”, vitamin D is the nutrient which is created when the sun hits our skin. The vitamin D then forms in the skin, and in turn is delivered to the kidneys and formed as the vitamin our bodies use: 25-hydroxy vitamin D.
There are a wide variety of factors that can impede upon and have a negative impact on a person’s vitamin D levels. People with darker skin have a lower intake of vitamin D as the melanin in their skin works as a natural sunscreen. This means they need to spend longer in the sun to get sufficient levels.
Additionally, older individuals are often at risk of a lower vitamin D intake as their skin begins to thin with age, they typically spend less time outdoors and their kidney function declines. Other factors such as stress, obesity and various medications can have a negative impact on an individual’s vitamin D intake.
The Best Method for Vitamin D Intake
Begin by finding out your vitamin D levels from a professional. Contact your health care practitioner and ask if they know any cheap providers of medical screening, or if they provide blood tests in-house. Once you know your vitamin D levels, discuss with your health care practitioner what is the best method of vitamin D supplementation. The current NRV for people aged 1-70 is 600 IU each day, however this may be higher if you suffer from mental health conditions. When you are deficient it may be more beneficial to supplement at a higher dosage (as advised by a professional), to speed up the process of getting towards optimal levels.
Don’t see yourself as a science experiment: if your levels of vitamin D were low before you decided to work towards a higher intake, they will still be low in the coming weeks. This is something that takes time to build and can have significant benefits once this is the case. Simply follow the advice of your medical practitioner and you will begin the process towards higher vitamin D levels and, hopefully, a happier, healthier you.