Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Vitamin D and Seasonal Affective Disorder

According to the new NICE guidelines, it is impossible to get enough vitamin D from sunlight exposure alone, between the months of October and March in the UK. This emphasises the importance of supplementation to ensure the correct levels are achieved. The Department of Health already recommend 10mg a day for pregnant or breastfeeding women, young children, elderly and those subject to restricted outdoor exposure.

80% of vitamin D is created in our body through exposure to UVB rays.


Low vitamin D levels can be due to a range of things from illness and medication but is most commonly caused by low UV exposure. Symptoms associated with a lack of vitamin D include fatigue, poor immunity, muscle weakness, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.

Vitamin D deficiency is also commonly associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D).

S.A.D also referred to as 'winter depression' is recognised as a form of depression that comes and goes in-line with the seasons. Symptoms begin in autumn when the daylight hours are short. It often remains at its peak throughout the winter months before improving in spring.

Symptoms of S.A.D include:

  • Low mood
  • Lack of interest in usual hobbies
  • Increased fatigue
  • Increased appetite

Whilst the exact cause of S.A.D is unknown, it is thought that a lack of sunlight means low vitamin D levels as well as poor brain function of the hypothalamus. It's this part of the brain that produces melatonin, serotonin and regulates our body clock.

We know the importance of wearing a sunscreen, not only for the anti-ageing benefits discussed in our articles, but to also protect against harmful UV radiation. Overexposure to UV, damages the skin and can trigger a mutation within the skin cells forming skin cancer. Wearing an SPF 30 daily protects against 97.5% of UVB rays. This subsequently reduces the skins ability to absorb vitamin D by 97.5%. The argument is an ongoing debate within the aesthetic industry.

Melanoma: the facts

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer with over 100,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the U.K. alone. The biggest contributing factor is excessive UV exposure. There are natural sources of Vitamin D in certain foods including oily fish, cereals and egg yolk.

The answer? - it's all about balance.

There is an ideal ratio of sun exposure to allow more benefits and low risk. However this varies dependant on factors related to environment and genetics. The importance of wearing a sunscreen should not be underestimated and the benefits for the skin both cosmetically and medically are huge.We recommend taking a daily vitamin D supplement as part of a healthy diet.

Emily recommends Heliocare Ultra D Oral Supplement Capsules. “As a practitioner I am often faced with the question 'should I wear sun cream if I have low vitamin D?' The truth is, I advise ALL my patients to wear an SPF daily. This does unfortunately reduce the absorption of UVB levels, which often results in low vitamin D. However in my opinion the benefits of using SPF and reducing the risk of melanoma outweigh the negatives. Heliocare Ultra D Oral capsules increase vitamin D levels by boosting the skins natural UV defence and provide a powerful antioxidant kick in the colder months. I advise patients who suffer from prickly heat in summer to continue with their daily dose as it helps to reduce symptoms.

Image source: freepik.com

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