Vitamin D may regulate your mood

Vitamin D is actually a steroid hormone that is critical to good health. It controls around 1000 genes in the body and has been shown to play a role in aging prevention. One of the interesting things that Vitamin D is believed to do is regulate our mood; reducing anxiety, aggression, depression and impulsive decision making. How does it do this? Okay, stay with me…david-b-townsend-fV3zTanbO80-unsplash
Vitamin D actually regulates a gene that encodes for an enzyme called Tryptophan Hydroxylase (TPH). TPH is a rate limiting enzyme for the conversion of L-Tryptophan into serotonin. You may well have heard about serotonin as it is said to be ‘mother nature’s antidepressant.’ We convert L-Tryptophan into serotonin both in the gut (regulated by TPH-1, which is regulated by vitamin D) and in the brain (regulated by TPH-2, which is regulated by vitamin D). The serotonin made in the gut does not actually cross the blood brain barrier and get into the brain. That means it is only the serotonin we produce in the brain that is having the positive impact on our mood.
I mentioned earlier that Tryptophan Hydroxylase (TPH) is a rate limiting enzyme for the conversion of L-Tryptophan into serotonin. In the case of TPH2 (the brain one) it is believed that vitamin D will regulate this gene so it INCREASES the production of serotonin; which is what we want. So the more vitamin D we get, the more TPH2 is activated to upregulate the production of serotonin and get these positive mood benefits.
Tryptophan is found in many proteins in the diet. The best source of vitamin D is from the sun, as we use the UV-B radiation to make it. If we want the benefits of Vitamin D, we need some level of sun exposure in the summer. If we are living in a part of the world where you have an overcast winter, it is very difficult to make it so we need to turn to food. The best dietary source is fish and of course we can always supplement. However, too much vitamin D can have negative effects so if you choose to supplement it is a good idea to get your levels tested and do some research to understand how much you need. Congratulations if you have read to the end of this post!