NewsHealth Insider


More Arizonans suffering health impacts due to lack of sunshine

More suffering from vitamin D deficiency, seasonal depression
Posted at 7:54 AM, May 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-03 10:54:32-04

PHOENIX — Valley doctors are seeing two health issues play out with a common denominator that's ironic in the desert — a lack of sunshine.

While the year-round sun draws tourists to the Valley, when the real heat sets in, most people retreat indoors to hide from it and cool down with air conditioning.

That lack of exposure to natural light has caused 40% of people to become vitamin D deficient. That number jumps to 88% of African Americans and 70% of Latinos in Phoenix.

"That number goes up the darker your skin is because it's more difficult to get conversion to the active form of vitamin D," said ABC15 Health Insider Dr. Shad Marvasti.

Dr. Shad recommends a daily D3 supplement rather than a weekly or monthly treatment. Taking it with fatty foods like salmon and halibut, or mushrooms, soy, and fortified orange juice helps with absorption.

Vitamin D deficiency can lead to a higher risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, early signs of dementia, asthma, and even depression.

That's the second issue — the mental shift of seeing what looks like great weather while instead feeling the effects of unrelenting heat. It has more people experiencing season pattern depression which is more commonly linked to the Pacific Northwest where they don't get enough sunshine.

"People aren't going outside, working out outside, not exercising, maybe not doing as many social things. People might find themselves oversleeping and still feeling depleted and exhausted fatigue," said Health Insider Dr. Emily Bashah.

She says it will take more planning but do your best to get real sunlight at some point in the day.

"If you can wake up early, set your alarm. If you're more of an evening person, then wait until sunset," said Dr. Bashah.