Sunshine, which is converted to Vitamin D3 in the bodies of all creatures, is responsible for the absorption of calcium. Therefore, sunshine plays a huge role in the development and maintenance of bones, teeth, beaks, hair, fur and feathers. It is an essential ingredient to a healthy life. But did you know that a lack of it also causes depression?
Recently, after months of not feeling “right”, I went to my doctor for a physical. She asked me to describe my symptoms: moodiness, achiness, fatigue to the point of lethargy, sleeplessness, feelings of anxiety, difficulty coping with normal stresses. I felt both physically and emotionally overwhelmed and drained.
Anyone who knows me describes me as a person who is happy, active and full of energy, and here I was feeling like the world the beating me up and not understanding why. My doctor suggested that before we break out the anti-depressants, we should eliminate the medical possibilities. Blood work determined that my Vitamin D levels were very, very low and could account for every symptom I was having.
The best thing we can do, besides watching for signs of depression, is to practice prevention. With winter bearing down on us, we should be sure that in lieu of outdoor activities, our birds are subjected to proper UVB lighting while they are in their cages and D3 supplements offered to those most at risk for this depletion.
Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.