Sunshine for Anxiety

Stave Off Illness?

Doctors have long known that a lack of the sunshine vitamin: vitamin D, is linked to depression, but now scientists are honing in on the fact that a deficiency of vitamin D may contribute to many other psychiatric conditions, for instance post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and personality disorders. An Australian study of some 50 patients located at a private psychiatric institution in Geelong discovered that up to 60% had very low levels of vitamin D and another 11% were somewhat deficient in the vitamin. Researchers are now wondering whether vitamin D supplements might stave off mental illnesses of all stripes.

The Geelong study was published in the Australian And New Zealand Journal Of psychiatry and found that 53 patients suffering from a variety of mental ailments, including depression, bipolar disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, and schizo-affective disorder, had vitamin D blood levels at a rate of about 29% lower than a separate group who had no mental illnesses.

Points to Ponder

Here are some more points to ponder:

*Rats born to mothers deficient in vitamin D were found to have profound changes in their brains at birth, with longer, thinner cortexes, enlarged lateral ventricles, and more cell proliferation within the brain. The brain damage continues into adulthood and expresses itself in hyperactivity. This phenomenon is already in evidence at the age of 10 weeks. There are also signs of impaired memory.

*Those people hospitalized with bipolar disorder who are given daily exposure to sunlight leave the hospital four days earlier than those who lack such exposure. Those affected by seasonal affectation disorder (SAD) have shorter hospital stays when they room on the sunnier side of the hospital.

* Mice lacking vitamin D receptors (VDR) in their brains were found to have increased levels of anxiety, sloppy grooming habits, neglect of their young, cannibalism, and aggression. Abnormal VDR causes a vitamin D deficiency, since the vitamin cannot serve its purpose in this environment. The unavailability of vitamin D is the presumed cause of the observed phenomena.

*Vitamin D has another crucial function and that is in triggering the body to produce nerve growth factor (NGF) which is a protein essential for developing nerve cells as they occur in the brain and elsewhere in the body. If vitamin D is not available, the nerve cells in the central nervous system and in the brain do not develop as they should, which may lead to mental disorders.

Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because it can be synthesized from ultraviolet light. The effect of this vitamin is to regulate blood levels of calcium and phosphorous and to promote bone mineralization and growth. A fifteen minute stint of daily sunlight on your arms and face is enough exposure to help you produce plenty of vitamin D. However, because of valid concerns about skin cancer and melanoma, folks today are slathering on the sunscreen. Even a low SPF of eight is high enough to stop your body from getting enough ultraviolet light to get your vitamin D fix. At any rate, people are too trapped in their cubicles doing work to get outside and into the sun.

So, what's a poor body to do? That's a no-brainer: buy some vitamin D at your pharmacy.

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