Dr. Sharolyn Dihigo, DNP, RN, CPNP-PC,FNP-C // Mar 05, 2019

Are your moods affected by the weather and whether it is a sunny day or cloudy day?

Do you feel a little sad and blue on days when it’s cloudy and rainy or when there’s no sunshine?  You are not alone!  Many people state their moods are affected by whether or not the sun shines, and 4-6 percent of people are more severely affected leading to a condition called “winter depression” or seasonal affective disorder. We recommend you speak with your healthcare provider if this is a condition that may be affecting you.

Sunshine and Serotonin 

I think we all feel a bit happier when the sun is shining but is there science to support this link?  Absolutely!  There is quite a bit of research focusing on sunshine and depression. When the sun is shining, our eyes bring in more light and in turn, our brain responds by making more serotonin (our happy, feel-good hormone.)  So, the great outdoors is truly a place to go to lift your mood, especially on sunny days.

Vitamin D – the Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D and sunshine are essential for our moods and wellbeing.  Although vitamin D has always been called a vitamin, we now realize it is really a hormone and vital for normal functioning.  Vitamin D helps to boost and regulate our immune system, maintains the health of our teeth and bones, and helps fight off certain diseases.  Vitamin D has been shown to decrease the risk of developing multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and it even helps ward off the flu. Vitamin D supplementation is also a treatment for depression and anxiety and boosts weight loss.

Vitamin D Deficiency

Signs of a vitamin D deficiency include feeling tired and fatigued, achy bones and muscles, getting sick more often, or a general sense of not feeling well.  A simple blood test can check for a deficiency.  A normal vitamin D level is between 50-100 mcg/dl, although I usually recommend a level between 60-80 mcg/dl for optimal wellness.  In addition to spending more time outdoors and eating foods higher in vitamin D, a supplement may be recommended.  High vitamin D foods include salmon, tuna, eggs, mushrooms, and vitamin D fortified dairy and non-dairy milk (almond, coconut, soy).

A Mood Boosting Walk

Another great way to boost your mood when you are feeling down is by taking a walk.  Exercise is one of the most effective tools for improving your mood and warding off depression.  A walk on a sunshiny day is a bonus! You get the mood-boosting endorphins and a shot of vitamin D all at once.

So it’s time to take a break and get outside for some fun in the sun!

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