WSAV NOW Weather: Weather & vitamin D; the importance to health


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Weather and climate conditions have profound impacts to people’s mental and physical health.

Vitamin D is needed for the body to absorb calcium which helps to promote strong bones and growth in children. A deficiency of vitamin D and a lack of calcium can lead to brittle bones.

Some research has been indicating that a lack of vitamin D can even make you more susceptible to certain cancers such as breast, colon, and prostate. A deficiency of vitamin D has also been linked to heart disease, weight gain, depression, respiratory disorders, and compromised immune systems.

With the current COVID-19 pandemic, there is some research that is suggesting there is a link between mortality rates and vitamin D deficiency.

Northwestern University researchers released one of those studies in June saying that populations that tend to have vitamin D deficiencies have been reporting higher death rates from COVID-19.

While the research is showing there could be a connection, Yale Medicine stresses it is too soon to say vitamin D deficiency is the cause. More research needs to be conducted.

The body produces its own vitamin D in the skin by absorbing sunlight. However, darker skin colors tend to absorb less sunlight and in turn produce less natural vitamin D. Yale Medicine says that elderly and African Americans are more likely to have lower vitamin D levels.

There are other sources for the vitamin in the food that we eat. Salmon, tuna, cheese, and egg yolks have small amounts of vitamin D.

A lack of sunlight and vitamin D can also have an impact on mental health leading to people developing depression.

Gloomy weather and northern latitudes reduce the amount of sunlight exposure people have. Research suggests that only people in the southern third of the United States actually have enough sunlight exposure and vitamin D absorption.

During the winter in northern climates, some people suffer from seasonal affect disorder. One of the causes for this type of depression is the lack of sunlight and the resulting vitamin D production.

Light therapy can help with seasonal treating seasonal affect disorder in many people. In settlements above the Arctic Circle where the sun does not rise during the winter, artificial sunlight has been used to treat the seasonal affects and to promote the production of vitamin D.

Here in the southeast, we do have to worry about having a lack of exposure to sunlight. Take advantage and get outside. It could be one of the best things you can do for you physical and mental health. Just don’t get too much sunlight.

For more on the research from Yale Medicine:

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