How much sun exposure - Vit D - mental health

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 14, 2013 at 2:31 AM

Hi all,

I came here recently looking for some advice around stress/anxiety/panic and helpful supplements. I saw Vitamin D recommended a lot for these things. In the past when I was very sick (physically, but mental health also going downhill) I tested with low Vit D. As my physical health has improved and I've been leaving the house more my Vit D levels have always tested in range. However, lately I've been having often crippling episodes of anxiety leading to panic and 24/7 cannot turn the stress off.

I do orienteering and have been attending weekend and mid-week events around midday where I don't wear sunscreen as tree cover keeps me pretty protected from sunburn (although I sometimes get a little pink). I've observed that the last few times I've been orienteering I came home feeling calm and relaxed and that feeling lasted for around 24 hours but after that I go off the rails again.

I'm not sure if its the prolonged exposure to (filtered) sunlight in the middle of the day that's making me feel better and am wondering if its possible that I'm only producing enough Vit D when the sun exposure is long and in the middle of the day. A mid-morning 30 minute walk in open sun doesn't seem to have nearly as good an effect. I guess it could also be the running around from orienteering which includes tough terrain and hills which I'm benefiting from. I'm wondering if anyone else has experienced this and can pinpoint what it is that makes them feel better. I'm thinking of supplementing Vit D but don't want to overdo it if I'm getting enough...

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on March 14, 2013
at 04:42 AM

You should take 100mg of magnesium glycinate with every meal either way. Made my anxiety go *poof*



on March 14, 2013
at 02:54 AM

Optimal UVB is available between 11am and 1pm.



on March 14, 2013
at 02:52 AM

Get your 25(OH)D blood level tested. Then you won't supplement blindly. More info at www.vitamindcouncil.org

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3 Answers


on March 14, 2013
at 05:04 AM

I have also had issues with anxiety, sleep, and stress, and have noticed a definite relationship between vitamin D, sun exposure, and mood. Basically in the winter I start to get cranky and edgy right around the equinox (when the days start to become shorter than the nights), and vitamin D supplements make a major difference. I don't need a huge dose, 400IU per day seems to do it. I'm much better able to deal with stress and anxiety in the summer.

I also get a feeling of calm and well-being after sun exposure, and have no problem being exposed to the sun for hours with no protection, even if it means a mild burn (which always seems to go away after 12-24 hours unless it's really severe). I am not particularly dark in complexion, definitely white/caucasion but not with pasty white skin. I have some 5000IU vitamin D supplements, which I think is too high of a dose, but after taking them in the morning, the rest of my day is almost always in a good mood.

I admit I have not been tested for vitamin D levels but I think that I should because I definitely think there is a relationship. My feeling is that some people are just particularly sensitive to this.

You might also look into your magnesium levels, I have found that low-dose magnesium supplementation also helps with sleep and mood. I think this must be related in some way to vitamin D.



on March 14, 2013
at 02:48 AM

Totally unscientific, but my thoughts are that if we evolved naked in the sun for an average of 12 hours a day than any less exposure than that is less than ideal. No? I live in a part of the world where "seasonal depression" is a household term and a common reality due to extremely short days in winter plus cold levels that make you have to cover every scrap of skin except your corneas.



on March 14, 2013
at 04:30 AM

There's a lot more than you'd think behind getting enough sun for vitamin D. Skin color, fat levels, etc. In general, it's about 30 minutes of sun (high in the sky) on your face, neck, arms. Sun near the horizon isn't as good. If you're darker skinned, you need more. If you've got low cholesterol, you're not going to make as much either.

There's also a bit more behind Vitamin D supplements than you'd think as well. There's been claims that vitamin d supplements aren't as good as actual sun (because of the misc cofactors created). But if it's all you've got, it's all you've got... Most people are severely deficient in Vitamin D. So you can probably supplement blindly to see how you feel (until you get the test results). I take 10k/day and am currently in the 50 range as per my most recent test last week. My test last year had me in the 70 range. Which brings up another issue that I saw recently. Apparently a lot of the Vitamin D supplements are not providing the rated amount of Vitamin D (substantially under the numbers). My numbers could have dropped because of the winter (or because the Vitamin D I'm using is one of the ones that's lieing about the numbers). :(

Like Dragonfly said, get yourself tested to see where you're at. And go for lunchtime walks.

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