The Low-Down on Vitamin D for Happiness and Productivity
As a Mental Health Counselor living in the Pacific Northwest (with long cloud-covered winters), I often help people overcome depressed mood and feeling stuck in inaction. Vitamin D is an often overlooked contributor to unhappiness and a lack of productivity.
After several days of clouds, rain, and wind; the re-emergence of the sun naturally brings many people out of their homes to enjoy the warm rays at local parks and neighborhoods. While a nice stroll in the sun helps to re-charge the Vitamin D stores in your body, most people actually need a more consistent supply. Below, we will explore 5 easily accessed sources of Vitamin D and explore its unique relationship with mood and productivity.
Many researchers and health writers have commented on the link between low levels of Vitamin D and reduced immune system functioning (thus more colds and flu), chronic disease, multiple sclerosis, fatigue, osteoporosis, autoimmune disease, cancer and hypertension.
Vitamin D’s Connection to Mood
What you may not be aware of is that most people are low in their Vitamin D levels and this can also affect your mood and productivity. Low levels of Vitamin D are associated with depressed mood and even anxiety. In one study of elderly patients, those with the lowest vitamin D levels were the most depressed and performed the worst on tests for cognitive function. Think about it, if vitamin D is low and your brain is functioning sub-optimally, it will be hard to be happy and productive.
On the contrary, Vitamin D supplements have shown to prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder (a form of mild depression in winter months). Likewise, increases in Vitamin D through light and vitamin supplementation are associated with increases in happiness, self-esteem, and well-being. In turn, happiness, self-esteem, and well-being are linked to increases in productivity.
In addition to the research evidence, this makes intuitive sense too, right?
Think about the last time you were soaking up some sun-rays and felt a boost in your happiness. Also, reflect on days where you happened to wake up in a more cheerful mood and felt good about yourself. You were likely more productive at work, compared to when you felt burned out, lethargic, and depressed.
So, how can you take advantage of the Vitamin D boost in happiness and productivity?
The Top 5 Vitamin D Sources
Check out these 5 easy ways to increase Vitamin D, and thus your happiness and productivity:
- Eat more mushrooms (shitake have more vitamin D than white mushrooms). You can also expose your mushrooms to the sun and they will increase in Vitamin D levels.
- Eat wild salmon, tuna, and local free-range chicken eggs.
- 30 minutes of sun exposure per day (with no sunscreen and skin exposed)
- Take a daily cod liver oil supplement
- Buy a SAD light. This is the treatment of choice by mental health professionals to treat seasonal affective disorder. You can buy one of these special lights online, for use in your own home.
Ready to improve your mood and productivity at work and home? I support you in moving into action by trying these simple action steps:
- On sunny days, leave your office at lunch and take a walk to eat your lunch outside. After some initial effort, this will become an enjoyable habit. The exercise will boost your mood as well!
- Do an internet search for “cod liver oil supplement” and order a supply that will conveniently be shipped to your front door.
- Add salmon and shitake mushrooms to your weekly grocery list and make it a regular dinner on Sunday nights before you start your work week. This will boost your Vitamin D stores and mood for the upcoming week.
The bottom line is that you have to have the physical/nutritional building blocks (like Vitamin D) to create the feel-good hormones in your mind and body, so give yourself the Vitamin D advantage in boosting your happiness and productivity!
The UltraMind Solution By Dr. Mark Hyman