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If there is anyone that...

We are always reading in our house, so we are super excited to be a #PenguinKidsPartner and share a new book by @robbtopp, called Wink. ⁣
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This hilarious and heart-wrenching story is about surviving middle-school with an unthinkable diagnosis, rare eye cancer. It’s a story of survival and finding the music, magic and laughter in life’s weirdness. ⁣
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Iyla is about half way through it and can’t put it down. She loves it because it shows that no matter what your situation, you can make the best of it! I love the message it shares. I’m always telling the girls to embrace their “weird” because it’s what makes them unique. The world would be such a boring place if we were all the same. ⁣
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If your middle-reader is looking for a new book, we highly recommend Wink from @PenguinKids. It’s available now! ⁣
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We are always reading in...

I was going to write a big ol’ something about the importance of social distancing. But instead, I’ll just give you the cliff notes version... ⁣
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If you aren’t an essential employee, or you aren’t making a run for essentials, 𝐒𝐓𝐀𝐘 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐅 𝐀𝐓 𝐇𝐎𝐌𝐄. ⁣
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The faster we comply, the faster this will be over. That’s all.⁣
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I was going to write...

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“What if we capture the...

It’s funny the things that I miss most. Often when the girls achieved something big, we would take them to this little ice cream shop by our home for a treat. But we can’t do that now. Our state is under a stay home order through at least May. And while we don’t NEED to go places, I miss the freedom to be able to do so. I miss not having to disinfect every single grocery item before we can put it away. I miss impromptu trips to Target. ⁣
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But... we haven’t left the house in almost three weeks. Because, eventually we will be able to get back to normal and drive wherever we want and spend money on things we probably don’t need. And our sacrifice for a month or two, or four, is so that our brave health workers and essential employees are not put in any additional danger. And to me, that’s worth the tiny inconvenience of being asked not to leave the house. ⁣
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What do you miss most?⁣
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It’s funny the things that...

It’s not just day 1 of “distance learning,” but it’s also #nationalcrayonday so we thought it would be fun to make some art with @crayola crayons. ⁣
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This is such an easy and fun project. Just hot glue glue crayons to a canvas and melt with a blow dryer. ⁣
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𝗪𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐲𝐩𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐟𝐮𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐨 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐜𝐫𝐚𝐲𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐭𝐨𝐝𝐚𝐲?⁣
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It’s not just day 1...

Want to know how the last two weeks have been? This about sums it up. ⁣⁣
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Want to know how the...

My self-quarantine meal schedule consists of:⁣
breakfast⁣
morning snack⁣
almost lunch snack⁣
lunch⁣
lunch dessert⁣
afternoon snack⁣
almost dinner snack⁣
dinner⁣
dessert⁣
evening snack⁣
bedtime snack⁣
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Anyone else winning at eating these days?⁣
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My self-quarantine meal schedule consists...

Being forced to stay home for the next who knows how long, is not going to stop us from celebrating the seasons and the various holidays that keep my kids looking forward to traditions like homemade baked goods and fun little crafts. And although there seems to be a huge shortage of all-purpose flour, luckily we had enough in our pantry to create these delicious baked double chocolate chip donuts with fresh banana icing for Spring or Easter! ⁣
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Recipe is linked in stories and bio. ⁣
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What are you doing to keep busy these days?⁣
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Being forced to stay home...

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Is Anxiety Linked to Vitamin D Deficiency?

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Before we chat about this, please remember that I’m not a medical professional. Please consult your doctor before adding any supplements or medication to your daily regimen.

Let me give you a little background on my story…

I’m pretty sure my anxiety started as early as my senior year of high school, though I didn’t know it may be anxiety until it happened when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, 15 years ago. I wasn’t officially diagnosed with anxiety/panic disorder until I saw the third psychiatrist in 2018. At that time, I had been working from home for approximately 9 years and spent 90% of my days indoors, in my home. That’ll be important to remember later on in this post.

The more I spoke to doctors, the more I was convinced that my anxiety was either a result of a medical issue (a symptom vs. a condition) OR had to do with a hormone imbalance. My OBGYN brushed it off and didn’t seem to think that it was hormone related at all. But two different general physicians agreed with those theories, though both believed that either diabetes or a thyroid condition was likely the cause of my anxiety symptoms.

My personal experience with physicians hasn’t been the most positive. They tend to form an opinion when they speak to me about my symptoms. They come up with their diagnosis, test for only those things and give me hope that I don’t have to live with this disorder for my entire life. When the tests don’t confirm that their diagnosis was right, they don’t continue looking for the actual problem. They just send me on my way with my negative results in hand and no more answers than I had before I saw them. I believe this has a lot to do with the stigma attached to mental health issues.

It’s all in your head.

Sound familiar?

The last doctor I saw in 2017, seemed genuinely interested in helping me figure out what was wrong. She sat with me for over an hour and listened and told me she would do everything she could to get me back to my “normal” self. Like the first doctor, she tested for diabetes and thyroid issues. I waited for those test results (though I knew they had previously come back negative).

I waited. I left messages. I called daily. Weeks later, the doctor finally called me back and said that both tests were negative and the only thing that my blood test showed was a vitamin D deficiency, likely because I rarely left the house due to my anxiety and because I had been working from home for 8 years. She told me to pick up some supplements at the local pharmacy and have a nice day.

I was disappointed that this doctor, who seemed to really want to help me, had given up because her initial diagnosis was wrong. And as upset as I was, I took Vitamin D supplements (when I remembered to), though I never went back to see her again. In fact, I haven’t been to a general practitioner since. I just lost hope that I would find one who would actually help and without medical insurance, I was tired of paying out of pocket for nothing.

Fast forward to early November of 2019… one of my friends sent me the following message:

… A friend of mine posted about how she was feeling super anxious and depressed all of sudden starting last year. She always had mild anxiety but it started becoming way worse. She went to a wellness dr and her bloodwork showed low Vitamin D. She also changed her diet to a clean “anti-inflammatory” diet. She said she had never felt more mental clarity. The weird thing is that a couple of years ago my doctor told me to take Vitamin D because mine was borderline low. I did for awhile and then when the bottle was done I never replenished. Lately, like the last 8-12 months I’ve been super stressed and anxious. I haven’t done any research but worth looking into.

I never thought that my Vitamin D deficiency could be connected to my anxiety disorder. The doctor never specifically said that, so I assumed they were unrelated. But when I received that message, I realized that there were at least two other people with the same results and the same issues as me. I couldn’t help but think that this wasn’t a coincidence.

I started reaching out to people that I know, that suffer from anxiety and depression. One after another, most confirmed that they were told that they had a vitamin D deficiency by their doctors too. A total of 11 people that I personally know.  Imagine how many more are out there.

I reached out to a therapist (who also suffers from anxiety) and asked her if she had ever heard of a connection between a vitamin D deficiency and anxiety. Her response shocked me.

I have!! Actually I went to an integrative doctor who tested my blood for deficiencies and I was severely deficient in Vitamin D! I’ve been trying to do more research.

After 12 people confirmed this connection, I decided to put up a poll on Instagram, trying to find more.

results from an instagram poll whether or not people with anxiety also have a vitamin d deficiency

I reached out to the people I personally know that selected “no” and they all admitted that they hadn’t been to the doctor for bloodwork in a while, so they actually aren’t sure if they have a deficiency (though a few said they were going to check at their next appointment). It wouldn’t surprise me if many of them come back with results that confirm a vitamin D deficiency. According to The New England Journal of Medicine, an estimated 1 billion people worldwide have vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency.

1 billion.

For now, let’s focus on that 52% that tapped “yes”. 52% of the people that took the poll on my Instagram stories have:

  1. Had bloodwork taken within the last few years.
  2. Were told by a physician that they have a Vitamin D deficiency.
  3. Suffer from anxiety and/or depression.

THIS CAN’T BE A COINCIDENCE.

I started researching various articles on the connection between the two. I was shocked to see how many there are. I gathered as much as I could during my online research and here is what stood out:

Vitamin D plays an important role in mood regulation, as well as nerve and brain health.

  • A 2015 review study reports that people with symptoms of anxiety or depression had lower levels of calcidiol, a byproduct of vitamin D breakdown, in their bodies.
  • A 2017 study found that taking vitamin D supplements improved both depression and anxiety in women with type 2 diabetes.

The body makes vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight. People can get more vitamin D by spending more time in the sun, eating foods rich in vitamin D or taking vitamin D supplements. But if we aren’t exposed to sunlight enough, because anxiety keeps us indoors, we very likely will have a Vitamin D deficiency.

People who live in the colder climate states, tend to report that their anxiety and/or depression is worse in the winter.  This is better known as SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a mood disorder featuring symptoms of depression that occur during the dark times of the year when there is very little sunshine. Several studies have suggested that the symptoms of SAD may be due to a sudden drop in Vitamin D levels, which may affect serotonin levels in the brain.

Did you hear that? Vitamin D is connected to serotonin. The main purpose of SSRI’s (antidepressants) are to increase the levels of serotonin in the brain.

So lack of vitamin D = less serotonin? Less serotonin = depression. Did I understand that correctly?

That’s not all.

Vitamin D is also the only vitamin that is a hormone. After it is consumed or absorbed in the skin, vitamin D is transported to the liver and kidneys where it is converted to its active hormone form. Earlier, I spoke about my anxiety possibly being a result of a hormone imbalance… it’s possible that it’s all connected.

Various studies confirm the link between low vitamin D and mental illness. These studies provide evidence that optimizing vitamin D levels may improve positive psychological well-being:

  1. A a Study in the Netherlands found that low levels of vitamin D correlated with symptoms of major and minor depression in 169 individuals ages 65 or older.
  2. An English study that included 2070 people age 65 and older concluded that vitamin D deficiency is associated with depression in northern countries, although major depression was only seen in individuals with the most severe deficiencies.
  3. In one study, adults with vitamin D deficiency who received high doses of the vitamin saw an improvement in their depressive symptoms after two months.
  4. A small study with nine women, all of whom were vitamin D deficient or insufficient, found that a daily dose of 5,000 IU of vitamin D significantly improved their depression symptoms.

What can you do?

I suggest that you get an annual checkup and bloodwork to make sure that your Vitamin D levels are where they need to be. Too much could also be harmful. So again, please consult a physician before adding Vitamin D supplements to your daily regimen. The good news is, fixing a Vitamin D deficiency is simple, easy and can have big benefits for your physical and mental health.

What’s my plan?

I’m going to be more consistent in taking my Vitamin D supplements daily. I’m scheduling an appointment with a new, local physician to get an updated blood test. I’m going to make more of an effort to feed my body what it needs to function both physically and mentally. Because even though I often find myself without hope that I’ll ever live an anxiety-free live, I am not giving up. And I can’t help but think that if I can just fix this deficiency, I can start to feel better again.

When I was diagnosed with a Vitamin D deficiency, I had no idea that it was related to my anxiety disorder. Turns out, they very well could be related. Here's what I've learned.

XOXO
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48 Comments
  • John
    March 17, 2020

    This is quite a revelation! Thanks to you for doing the due diligence and brought this up in such detail. Now never going to miss my regular sit in the outdoors when is the sun is at its prime.

  • Amanda
    February 13, 2020

    I absolutely love EVERYTHING on your site, but thank you for sharing. I need to make sure Im getting bloodwork done for atleast once a year

  • Jess
    January 30, 2020

    I never thought about the correlation. I’m glad you shared this, it really makes you think. I probably need to listen to what my body is telling me more often.

  • Agnes Vazhure
    January 29, 2020

    This is really helpful. I will definitely share this with my friends. Thanks for this article.

  • Esther
    January 29, 2020

    Everything in this physical world is connected. I call indoors the four walls, squares, boxes. Where in nature do we see squares? I say this to say not only is our diet linked to our mental health but our connection to nature which provides food for us and sustains us. Unpredictable circumstances, like anxiety, can make it very challenging to get out and soak up some sun for example. This is certainly a thought provoking discussion. I am happy you found some healing, Heather. All the best <3

  • Autumn
    January 24, 2020

    Thank you for sharing your personal experiences. It is so frustrating when doctors do not listen to your concerns. I am pretty sure I have a Vitamin D deficiency based on all that you explained and the way my anxiety makes me feel.

  • Kara Guppy
    January 24, 2020

    I definitely think that our mental health is linked to our diets

  • Rachel Lavern
    January 23, 2020

    This is a very informative post Heather! Just this morning I was reading another article about types of issues lack of Vitamin D may be linked to.

  • Lisa Rios
    January 23, 2020

    I had never heard of this theory before. It makes me want to research it more!

  • Lea
    January 23, 2020

    Before I made a habit of meditation, I was suffering from anxiety. I didn’t expect this info. Thank you for sharing this, truly. I‘ll research more about vitamin D..

  • Lavern Moore
    January 23, 2020

    I’m glad you are on you way to a wellness free from the things that trigger you.

  • littlemisadvencha
    January 23, 2020

    anxiety is a culprit, and to eliminate or avoid it, we must take care of ourselves. thanks for this information and highlighting the importance of vitamins to our body. 🙂
    Cha at Little MisadvenCHA

  • Lily
    January 22, 2020

    I can totally see a link! I had a vitamin D deficiency and I felt I had a high amount of anxiety.

  • Eileen M Loya
    January 22, 2020

    This is good to know. I will have to discuss this with my doctor on my next visit. If my depression is caused by this vitamin deficiency, I would rather take that than a gazillion other pills.

  • Myrah Duque
    January 22, 2020

    This is quite interesting and a wake call. My daughter has been suffering from anxiety since she was in elementary school. Every time she went for a check-up, the Vitamin D topic would come up.

  • Ashley
    January 22, 2020

    In Oregon you give it to babies from birth on and we take it daily. There’s just not enough sun here year round to get enough. Even if we do go outside. I’m sorry it took so long to diagnose.

  • Nicole Pyles
    January 22, 2020

    Oh I totally agree with this! I live in a colder climate that doesn’t have much sun and this makes me wonder. I should definitely get my vitamin levels checked out.

  • Tiffany La Forge-Grau
    January 22, 2020

    That is some pretty great information. Anxiety can take effect on anyone it would seem.

  • Catherine
    January 22, 2020

    I absolutely believe that a Vitamin D deficiency can effect our mood…any vitamin deficiency will effect us. Such a great read and important reminder to get out for some sunshine and make sure we’re getting proper nutrients.

  • the joyous living
    January 22, 2020

    i’m sorry you’ve had tough experiences w/ doctors. i have too. they often lump you in a category like fibromyalgia. thankfully i have found great doctors since. and i hadn’t put two and two together but i stopped needing my therapist after i found these other doctors. 🙂

  • Kim Byars Croisant
    January 22, 2020

    It sure could be. I don’t go a day without taking my Vitamin D3. I’ll almost swear to it, it’s made me a better person since I started taking it over 3 years ago.
    Kim Byars Croisant recently posted Chickpea Avocado Feta SaladMy Profile

  • Amber
    January 22, 2020

    I have heard there may be a correlation between anxiety and depression before and it makes sense- vitamin D does a lot of work for the body. I bet it is just nice to have a plan that may actually resolve your anxiety.

  • shayna
    January 22, 2020

    I certainly think you are onto something. I can definitely attest that being in a cooler climate with shorter days and spending more time inside gives me more anxiety. Great read!

  • Krystel | Frugal Living
    January 22, 2020

    Just shared this with my mom who will find it really useful. Thank you so much for this
    Krystel | Frugal Living recently posted My Disney Experience (why, how, and more)My Profile

  • Ruth I
    January 22, 2020

    I never thought about this actually. My friends has their own 2 cents regarding the matter. Vitamin D is absolutely important.

  • Adi
    January 22, 2020

    Vitamin D deficiency is a serious concern. Glad that you could figure out your problem and are taking steps to make it better!

  • Cristina Petrini
    January 22, 2020

    Anxiety linked to vitamin D deficiency? I admit that I did not know this connection, but I am always open and interested in finding out more. Health is an important thing.
    Cristina Petrini recently posted Haute Couture Low Cost: The ChallengeMy Profile

  • Kuma
    January 22, 2020

    Now I learn so much from your post. I didnt take vitamin D but try to stay under the sun during the morning.
    Kuma recently posted Hurghada Red Sea – the Resort Paradise in EgyptMy Profile

  • Kita Bryant
    January 22, 2020

    That is an interesting point. I have a deficient in Vitamin D and anxiety. I should look more into this.

  • Anna
    January 22, 2020

    Wow,that’s a very informative post,I could’nt really imagine how that was connected but I believe it,as well as having hyperthyroidism can be due to lack of iodine. Thanks! I guess I have to add Vitamin D to my daily supplements.

  • Sherry
    January 22, 2020

    I take Vitamin D daily and it does help. I spend a lot of time indoors as well and don’t get enough exposure to natural Vitamin D.

  • Brandy Ellen Writes
    January 21, 2020

    I’ve heard that a Vitamin D deficiency can screw up a lot of stuff. I believe it can be linked to anxiety, makes perfect sense to me. That’s why I use my light therapy in the winter season here in NH.
    Brandy Ellen Writes recently posted Should You Repair or Replace a Damaged Unit Heater?My Profile

  • Celebrate Woman Today
    January 21, 2020

    Heather,
    I am so happy you dug deep and deeper to get to the root, though it took you years.
    I really can associate with your work you had to do to discover, to find, to pinpoint to the problem’s root.
    Hugs, my awesome Hero. Love the post and the info that will help someone else out there looking for answers.

  • Fatima Torres
    January 21, 2020

    I found myself on a similar boat years ago with our firstborn. I wasn’t taking in the right vitamins and felt my body go through some changes. Since then, I’ve been on top of my vitamin intake.

  • Angela
    January 21, 2020

    I actually have a referral for labs sitting on my kitchen counter. I am curious to see if I have a Vitamin D deficiency. My anxiety has been so bad lately.

    • Heather
      January 21, 2020

      I’m so sorry to hear that! Definitely go and get the tests done!

  • Lisa B
    January 21, 2020

    I have been reading a lot about supplements lately. I just started taking some D and B vitamins and have noticed an increase in energy so far.

  • Amy Desrosiers
    January 21, 2020

    I do believe there is a link. We need the sun’s vitamin D so when we can’t be outside we need to make sure we supplement.

  • Tara Pittman
    January 21, 2020

    I love that a simple vitamin can help. I need to go buy some vitamin d

    • Heather
      January 21, 2020

      Make sure you consult with your doctor first. Too much can be harmful.

  • Bianca
    January 21, 2020

    Oh wow! I had no idea that vitamin deficiency of any kind could contribute to anxiety. I think this is going to help a lot of people.
    Bianca recently posted Plunge Beach Resort: Spend 72 Hours at This Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort with Your Kids Like ThisMy Profile

  • Brianne Tursi Manz
    January 21, 2020

    I would have never made a connection between anxiety and vitamin D deficiency. I emailed your post to a family member who suffers from anxiety.

  • Luna S
    January 21, 2020

    This is a fascinating article, I deal with this myself sometimes and have wondered what I can do to help improve my mood. I know I get low on iron sometimes but never thought about Vitamin D, I will have to work some into my diet and see if things chance. Thanks for writing this up.

  • Lisa Joy Thompson
    January 21, 2020

    I don’t suffer from anxiety, but I do know that when my Vitamin D levels are low, I struggle in a lot of areas of my life. I’m super proactive about taking Vitamin D and spending time outdoors every day. It makes a huge difference! I’m glad you’re finding answers!
    Lisa Joy Thompson recently posted DIY Valentines Day Gifts: An Easy Cricut ProjectMy Profile

  • Matt Taylor
    January 21, 2020

    Very interesting post on vitamin D deficiencies and links to anxiety. Thanks for sharing! I try to keep up with my vitamins.

  • Denise
    January 21, 2020

    This is my first time hearing this. It’s amazing how many disorders can be linked to a nutritional cause.
    Denise recently posted Kathy Bates Takes CBS to the Doctor’s OfficeMy Profile

  • Ann
    January 21, 2020

    I have never heard of this before, thanks for sharing!
    Ann recently posted Inside of St Giles CathedralMy Profile

  • jennifer schreiner
    January 21, 2020

    I believe it. I also have seen friends who are vitamin D deficient become depressed. It is amazing what the sunshine vitamin can do. I also hope that your post give more people a better understanding of their bodies. Thanks for sharing.

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