By: Marc Sorenson, Sunlight Institute–
New research from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Corroborates what almost every human being knows: Sunshine brightens the mood. Twenty people with depressive symptoms were split into two groups: one group was asked to spend more time in the sunlight, and another group was asked to see a doctor. The experiment lasted for seven weeks and showed that those who spent more time in the sunlight had fewer symptoms of depression.
The authors of this research suggested that vitamin D status accounted for the differences in the two groups, but I personally believe that it is more likely that the true mechanism was the influence of sunlight exposure in producing endorphins and serotonin. We who live in more northern climes have all experienced immediate mood elevation on entering the sunlight after spending several days or months in cloudy winter weather. Vitamin D is not produced in winter in high-latitude countries, so winter sunshine must be the factor that makes the difference. Also, we cannot raise vitamin D levels fast enough to make that kind of immediate difference in mood. Those in the UAE whose moods improved had previously created their own “winter” by avoiding sunlight, and it is likely that the mood improvements were made not by vitamin D but by the aforementioned mood-enhancing changes. Nevertheless, the article makes some good points and is worth reading.