The Importance of Vitamin D on Mental Health
Vitamin D is a critical nutrient that millions of Americans are deficient in. Vitamin D is a key component of calcium absorption for strong bones and cartilage, but it also offers psychological and emotional benefits as well.
Vitamin D has been implicated in the worsening of some mood disorders including depression. Depression, of course, can increase the risk of substance abuse or relapse. Even if no substance abuse is present, this deficiency can worsen any number of existing mental health problems. Vitamin D also affects the immune system. Indeed, those with Vitamin D deficiencies have a greater risk of infection from a number of diseases. This has also been proven with COVID-19 more recently.
Unfortunately, it is hard to get enough Vitamin D through diet alone. Even fortified foods such as milks and cereals do not have enough Vitamin D to correct a deficiency.
The best and fastest way to get sufficient Vitamin D is to spend time in the sun. But, of course, too much time in the sun can increase the risk of skin damage and even skin cancer. As a result of our modern lifestyles, we do not spend enough time outdoors. And when we do, we usually wear sunscreen. So, most people do not get the amount of vitamin D they need.
Fortunately, Vitamin D supplementation is inexpensive and very safe. Clients who come into treatment will be screened for vitamin deficiencies and potentially put on a supplementation regimen of vitamin D3. It can sometimes take months for Vitamin D levels to increase and normalize in the body.
Of course, you should not start a supplementation regimen without the direction of a qualified professional such as Andrea, our nutritionist, or the medical staff at the Destination Hope. A simple blood test can easily detect a Vitamin D deficiency and we can help you address it promptly.
~Andrea Morganstein MS, RDN ,LDN, CDCES
Andrea Morganstein MS, RD, LDN, CDCES, is our dietician at Destination Hope in Fort Lauderdale FL. Andrea works with our clients to tailor nutrition and diet plans that suits their needs within a few days of entering treatment. She works with our chef and clinical plan to support the treatment process and return our clients to health and nutritional balance.