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Sunlight, vitamin D and depression

By: Marilyn C. Arayata

VEN the darkest night will end and the sun will rise” (Victor Hugo). After two typhoons, who does not have a renewed appreciation of sunlight? The over-all atmosphere becomes bright, thus affecting our mood. Exposure to sunlight reportedly helps the brain produce more serotonin, a natural anti-depressant. Sunlight, as we were all taught, is a source of Vitamin D which is needed for development of bones and muscles.

One study found that Vitamin D deficiency is associated with depression. This is why a public health advice for England recommends Vitamin D supplements during autumn and winter months. (The dosage depends on age and other factors, so a doctor must be consulted.)

Simon Spedding’s claim is in harmony with this: “The association between depressive disorders and Vitamin D deficiency from a lack of sun exposure is well established and was first noted two thousand years ago, therefore we considered the evidence for the effectiveness of Vitamin D supplementation. Vitamin D is a unique secosteroid hormone formed mainly by photosynthesis, so an indoor lifestyle and sun-avoidance leads to deficiency….” (US National Center for Biotechnology Information)

Harvard’s School of Public Health says, “Being ‘D-ficient’ may increase the risk of a host of chronic diseases, such as osteoporosis, heart disease, some cancers, and multiple sclerosis, as well as infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis and even the seasonal flu”. Being afflicted with any of these diseases – besides being a real medical problem affecting all aspects of life – is also a risk to developing depression, so bask in the sun – but avoid too much exposure, especially between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Marilyn Arayata: inspirational author, columnist, speaker, and former DLSU-D faculty, your partner in preventing bullying, depression, and suicide. E-mail mcarayata01@gmail.com. Like the Hope Boosters Facebook Page for nuggets of hope and inspiration.

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  • Marc Sorenson

    In the winter, sun lamps or sunbeds (tanning beds) are a great way to optimize vitamin D levels. Many people are afraid of them due to efforts by sunscreen manufacturers and dermatologists. However, there are many terrific health effects of tanning. Here are a few:

    A 20-year study demonstrated that both sun exposure and sunbed exposure reduced the risk of death; women who used sunbeds were 23% less likely to die of all causes than women who did not use them.
    • Sunbed use is associated with increased vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is essential to human health.
    • Sunbed use is associated to lower breast-cancer risk.
    • Sunbed use is associated with stronger bones.
    • Sunbed use can cure psoriasis and eczema and sunbeds are often recommended by dermatologists.
    • Sunbed use more than three times yearly is associated with a 40-50% reduced risk of endometrial cancer.
    • Sunbed use is associated with a reduced risk of clots.
    •Sunbeds can also help to build a protective tan, which prevents sun damage during sunny vacations.
    To learn more, and to read all of the scientific documentation regarding sun beds and sun exposure, visit the Sunlight Institute. http://sunlightinstitute.org/