When external stressors get the best of us, the idea of emotional balance can feel like a far-off fantasy. In these mentally trying moments, your nervous system deserves some love and care to help you rejuvenate your emotional health and properly support your mental well-being. Luckily, there's a well-known nutrient that can help: vitamin D.
Certain health benefits from the sunshine vitamin have been well known for years—e.g., musculoskeletal support and immune function—and researchers have more recently found vitamin D receptors and metabolites in the brain1, suggesting vitamin D also plays an important role in regulating cognitive function and emotional health.*
Case in point: A 2021 2Clinics 2systematic review of 15 studies2 found consistent evidence that vitamin D status and overall mood are inextricably linked. According to researchers, sufficient vitamin D levels promote a healthy mood, while clinical vitamin D deficiency (i.e., below 20 ng/ml) contributes to the risk of suboptimal mental well-being—especially in younger people.*
Vitamin D deficiency & low mood in the U.S.
The sad reality is that 29% U.S. adults are clinically deficient3 in vitamin D, and 42% are insufficient3 in the fat-soluble vitamin. The worst part? The clinical definition of vitamin D "sufficiency" is serum levels above 30 ng/ml, but health experts agree that truly optimal levels are above 50 ng/ml. Translation: That 42% insufficiency estimate is likely quite low, with many more Americans failing when it comes to their daily D status.
With vitamin D insufficiency affecting so many Americans, it's no wonder that mood struggles are so prevalent across the nation! The good news is that something as simple as a daily vitamin D supplement can promote mood support and help you maintain emotional balance.*
How vitamin D delivers mood support.
While the exact and various mechanisms in which vitamin D regulates emotional health are still being explored, researchers have discovered the essential vitamin's role in gut health and neurotransmitter synthesis plays an important part.*
If you aren't already aware of how gut health affects emotional well-being, allow us to introduce you to the gut-brain axis—a two-way communication system between your gastrointestinal tract and brain that affects cognitive function, nervous system regulation, nutrient absorption, and more.
Research indicates that vitamin D helps promote gut lining integrity and bolster microbiome diversity—both of which contribute to a stronger gut-brain connection and provide overall support for the central nervous system.* Translation? Sufficient vitamin D status supports a healthy gut, which in turn, promotes a better and more balanced mood.*
In a 2021 scientific review4, researchers found that vitamin D also helps regulate serotonin and melatonin—two hormones highly responsible for mood regulation and sleep health.* In this regard, vitamin D has a direct impact on mood by critically supporting the synthesis of serotonin (aka the "happy hormone") in the brain.*
Because serotonin is a precursor for melatonin, the fat-soluble vitamin D also indirectly promotes calmness, relaxation, and one's ability to wind down at the end of the day.* Whether you're looking to support a healthy mood by bolstering your gut health, serotonin production, or sleep hygiene, evidence suggests vitamin D is an key piece of the puzzle.*
A 2010 scientific review5 called vitamin D supplementation a "simple and cost-effective solution for many" with mood concerns, and we and mindbodygreen concur—if you're looking to promote a healthy mood, a high-quality vitamin D3 supplement is a great place to start.*
For a premium D3 supplement that delivers a truly effective dose of D3, plus built-in absorption technology (i.e., an organic trio of flax, olive, and avocado oils that bolster the fat-soluble vitamin's bioavailability), mbg's vitamin D3 potency+ is a fantastic solution for mood support and emotional regulation.*
Morgan Chamberlain is a supplement editor at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition. Chamberlain believes in taking small steps to improve your well-being—whether that means eating more plant-based foods, checking in with a therapist weekly, or spending quality time with your closest friends. When she isn’t typing away furiously at her keyboard, you can find her cooking in the kitchen, hanging outside, or doing a vinyasa flow.