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Vitamin D: Boost Your Mood & Kick the Winter Blues!

WHERE’S THE SUN?!

Ahh November in Cleveland! Like it or not, the winter months are upon us and with that comes fewer hours of sunlight and less time spent outdoors.

So, what does that mean for us as humans?

Less vitamin D. Womp. Womp.

Approximately 95% of the population receives Vitamin D through natural exposure to sunlight. And, to absorb the recommended amount, research suggests we only need 15-20 minutes just 2-3 days/week (we recommend more of course!).

Now, as Midwest dwellers, this is super easy to achieve during summer months – no one can keep a Clevelander indoors – but come winter, it’s no surprise our bodies aren’t producing enough Vitamin D, if any.

As we prepare for winter, being stuck indoors and cold and flu season, it’s perfect timing to talk about the importance of Vitamin D when it comes to boosting our moods and staying healthy!

Who doesn’t want to be healthy and happy?!

In today’s coaches blog, you are learning:

  1. Why you NEED Vitamin D

  2. 5 Signs you may be deficient

  3. 3 Ways to score MORE Vitamin D!


WHY YOU NEED VITAMIN D

It’s no secret Vitamin D is essential year-round but especially important during winter months for two reasons:

  1. Keeping your immune system in tip-top shape !

  2. Combating the effects of seasonal depression 🙂

First, let’s talk about that immune system: It’s prime cold and flu season and with the holidays rapidly approaching, time to spend tons of quality time with family and friends. There is also the whole global pandemic thing so now is the time when we want our immune systems operating at optimal capacity!

[No one wants to miss a favorite holiday tradition or RF workout!]

When it comes to boosting your immune system, vitamin D is key so you need to be consuming the proper amounts of vitamins and minerals from dietary sources. Vitamin D (also known as calciferol), is a fat-soluble vitamin and vitamins NEED dietary fats in order to be properly absorbed. By consuming foods containing heart-healthy fats, you ensure Vitamin D is being absorbed and readily available for important body functions.

Along with consuming the proper amounts of vitamins and minerals from dietary sources, be sure to include plenty of sleep (aim for a minimum of 7 quality hours) and keep stress levels in check as both can lead to a weakened immune system when not properly managed.

Equally as important as our physical health, is our mental well-being. Seasonal depression impacts 5% of the population, with upwards of 20% suffering from the winter blues (mild version of seasonal depression). Most of us reading this have experienced some form of the Cleveland winter blues and understandably so! We are stuck inside, it’s dreary and dark by 5:30pm. We go days without bright sunshine and naturally, just want to cozy up on the couch. Motivation decreases as does activity levels because it’s too darn cold!

Common symptoms of the winter blues include:

  • Anxiety

  • Overeating

  • Weight gain

  • Fatigue and lack of energy

  • Over sleeping

When it comes to boosting your mood, Vitamin D plays an essential role in boosting our serotonin levels, the hormone responsible for regulating our mood, happiness and well-being. When our bodies aren’t getting enough sunlight to produce Vitamin D, not only do we become vitamin deficient, we may also experience negative changes in our moods.

Here are a few more examples outlining why Vitamin D is crucial for improving our health:

  • Keeps bones healthy and strong (preventing osteoporosis + bone fractures)

  • Helps burn fat and build lean muscle

  • Supports cognitive health

  • Improves skin health and reduces symptoms of eczema and psoriasis

  • Reduces risk for heart attack, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke

  • Prevents cancer, type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis


5 SIGNS YOU MAY BE DEFICIENT

It is not uncommon to have a Vitamin D deficiency, especially in Ohio where sunlight is affected by the seasons. If you suspect you may have low levels of Vitamin D, your levels can be tested through a blood test from your physician. Common signs of deficiency can include:

  • Muscle weakness and aches

  • Fatigue

  • Hair loss

  • Depression

  • Poor sleep quality

If left untreated, a deficiency can lead to the loss of bone density, trigger cardiovascular disease and other health problems. Always speak with your physician before supplementing with vitamins. Comparatively, in some cases, too much of a specific vitamin can lead to toxicity, including Vitamin D, which can cause kidney damage. Signs and symptoms of too much Vitamin D to watch for are nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, and weakness.


3 WAYS TO GET MORE VITAMIN D

  1. Sunlight: It is known as the sunshine vitamin for a reason! Though more scarce during winter months, the Cleveland sun still shines! Aim for 15-20 minutes of sunlight at least 3 days per week when possible (eve on days where it isn’t super sunny). A quick walk around the block lets your skin absorb and produce Vitamin D to help boost and regulate your mood, happiness and overall well-being!

  2. Food! Vitamin D is naturally found in many foods such as salmon, tuna, beef liver, egg yolks, and mushrooms.  Natural sources may be harder to come by if you are vegetarian or vegan so products such as milk, yogurt and orange juice are fortified with Vitamin D to help supplement what may be lacking in your diet.

  3. Supplements: Recommended daily Vitamin D intake from both food and supplemental sources for most people ranges between: 600 – 2,000 IU/d. This range can vary and some individuals are more (severely) deficient than others. Always consult with your physical before taking any supplements to determine the best dose for you.

So remember, when it comes to boosting your mood and staying health this winter, making your physical and mental health a priority by getting outdoors AND eating a variety of real, nutrient-dense foods will ensure you stay healthy, mentally and physically strong, and away from the doctors office. Your body will thank you!


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