A daily dose of sunlight or vitamin D can make you happier

The sun is one of the most important elements that sustain us and our planet. Without the sun, you would not be able to survive on this planet. The sun is responsible for generating our weather patterns and warming our seas. The sun provides energy for plants to grow and each new sunrise helps us to welcome a brand new day.

There is a reason why the sun makes us happy and why we are drawn to people who feel like sunshine. Sunlight is very important for your body and your mental health. Your body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on your skin. Sunlight also has a biologically profound effect on your mood. It heightens your brain’s production of the mood-enhancing chemical – serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps elevate your mood.

Mark E. Beecher, a psychologist, and researcher from Brigham Young University conducted a research study involving 16,452 adults. He analysed therapeutic distress across 19 weather and pollution variables over a six-year period. Results from this study indicate that individuals experience increased mental health distress during periods of reduced sun time hours.

So, depending on where you live or what season of the year you experience at the moment, you might not always have sunlight available to you. Luckily, you can also eat foods that are rich in vitamin D or take supplements to increase your vitamin D intake and boost your mood.

The Journal of Neuropsychiatry published a research study on the causality, assessment, and clinical practice implications of depression and vitamin D deficiency. The research study shows a relationship between vitamin D deficiency and symptoms of depression. The results indicate that it still remains unclear if low vitamin D levels are the cause or the effect of depression. Several factors contribute to hamper the studies on the relationship between vitamin D and depression, including the fact that a lack of vitamin D is just one of the many factors that may contribute to depression. 

Hey Happy recommends that you spend some time outside when the sun is out (don’t forget to wear sunscreen), take Vitamin D supplements, or include foods rich in vitamin D in your meal plans. Foods that are rich in vitamin D include salmon, herring, sardines, cod liver oil, canned tuna, oysters, shrimp, egg yolks, and mushrooms, and will assist your brain in producing serotonin.

Invite the power of the sun to put a smile on your face today!

written by Derika de Villiers, Clinical Psychologist.