Vitamin D crucial in manufacturing mental/physical health in the winter

Taylor Voegele News Editor

Finals are right around the corner and becoming ill isn’t convenient during this chaotic time. A lack of Vitamin D could be the cause of end-of-semester sickness.

With the change of season from fall to winter, it can be hard to get a healthy amount of Vitamin D, due to lack of sunlight.

Being out in the sun is how most people typically get their daily dose of Vitamin D. But in wintery weather the sun doesn’t always shine. 

Katelyn Christensen, junior sociology major, said she isn’t very active during the winter months other than going to the Wellness Center.

However, there are other options for people to get the daily amount of Vitamin D besides relying on the sun.

Shelly Brandenburger, lecturer from College of Education and Human Sciences, explained that Vitamin D is necessary for maintaining healthy bones and muscles.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally available in a few foods, but can be added to others as a dietary supplement, according to the National Institutes of Health.  

Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring and tuna are good sources of Vitamin D. 

Other foods that are a good source of Vitamin D and easier to find on a college campus are egg yolks or fortified products, such as orange juice or milk, as well as cheese and yogurt.

Another way to get the necessary amount of Vitamin D is through supplements. 

Supplements don’t prevent diseases like heart disease, autoimmune disease, diabetes or cancer, according to a new study published by the British Medical Journal.

Individuals taking these supplements are still at risk for the common cold and flu, but that doesn’t mean people should stop taking them. 

However, supplements may be beneficial to people at high risk of falls and fractures. 

“Vitamin D is necessary to maintaining healthy bones and is being studied for its potential role in several other aspects of health including cancer,” Brandenburger said. “Though having too much Vitamin D may also cause certain cancers as I always say in class ‘it’s the balance matters.’”

There can be consequences for individuals who don’t get the daily amount they need, be it through sun, food or supplements. 

Victor Georgiev, junior human biology major mentioned that he used to take Vitamin D supplements, but stopped after awhile.

“I feel worse without taking them and I don’t know why I just stopped. I don’t know that it’s the reason, but not taking them could be a correlation,” he said. 

Low levels of Vitamin D are associated with depression, especially during the winter, according to an article by Vitamin D Council.

Depression is a mental illness common among college students across the nation. Around this time of year students can often feel overwhelmed and lonely, according to the article by the Vitamin D Council.

“It can become quite stressful during this time of year and to help with that I try to sleep for eight hours,” Georgiev said. “I also put breaks into my homework to clear my mind by going to the Wellness Center and goof around.”

Thirty percent of college students have reported feeling so “down” that it was hard to function, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI).

Lower Vitamin D status was associated with higher depression scores even after some students spent time outdoors into consideration, said the article by the Vitamin D Council.

Eating healthy foods and exercising can be vital to lowering anxiety and depression, reported NAMI.

Though keeping Vitamin D levels normal can also be an important role in lowering depression.

Abigail Gebro, sophomore business economics major, said staying healthy during the winter can be difficult, but it isn’t impossible.

“I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, and I would definitely recommend to people to eat healthy and exercise,” Gebro said.