Our moods can be greatly affected by sunlight. Natural light helps our bodies produce vitamin D. There are vitamin D receptors in the brain, and the vitamin may affect proteins in the brain known to play a role in mood, learning and memory, motor control, and possibly even maternal and social behavior. Vitamin D may also affect the serotonin levels in your brain, which is the chemical linked to feelings of well-being and happiness.
During the winter, it can be hard to get enough sunlight, so it's not a bad idea to add a vitamin D supplement every day. About 40% of adults in the US are vitamin D deficient, but it is more common in black (80%) and Hispanic (70%) adults. There are "full spectrum" lamps that people (including me!) sometimes use during the winter to help with depression, but those do not provide the UVB wavelengths that help generate vitamin D. The lamps are useful for other reasons, though, and I'll talk about those in a later post!
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