Vitamin D is a hormone that controls over a thousand genes. It makes bones strong and healthy. It also plays a significant role in various body functions and processes. In recent years, researchers have started expanding their research to the role of vitamin D in mental health, particularly among adolescents. A study has revealed a link between Vitamin D and childhood mental health issues such as autism, depression, ADHD, cognition, and sleep disorders.
Vitamin D Deficiency and Mental Health in Adolescents:
According to the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (KiGGS), there is high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency (69%) in children 7-13 years of age. This result led researchers to consider the possibility that vitamin D deficiency may have a negative impact on the mental health of the German children.
Data were collected from about 9000 children, 3 to 17 years of age, within a three-year span (May 2003-May 2006). The parents filled out the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaires (SDQ) about their children’s mental status. The children were interviewed, examined, and had their 25 (OH) D serum levels measured. The result of the study, which was published in the PLOS ONE journal, revealed that vitamin D deficiency is linked to behavioral issues observed in older adolescents.
Vitamin D and Its Sources:
Having adequate amount of vitamin D is important for the body’s physical and mental health. There are three ways to get vitamin D: through sun exposure, supplementation, and vitamin D-rich foods. Sunlight exposure is the most natural method to get vitamin D. Stay under the sun for a period of time to allow the skin to produce vitamin D. Supplementation is another way to get vitamin D. If staying under the sun is not possible then vitamin D supplements help. Consumption of vitamin D-rich foods can also help the body get the needed vitamin D.