Sun, Vitamin D, Depression, and UtahBy: Stephen Marsh
Thirty years ago, Utah was the lowest in depression and other issues for states in its demographic/locational axis (depression goes up the further north you go, it goes up in mountain states, it is modified by age balance).
Since then Utah has become less LDS and more depressed.
But that isn’t the real story or the real correlation.
The real correlation is that LDS women get a lot less sun than they used to. While they probably have a lot less risk for skin cancer, recent statistics show that they are among the most vitamin D deprived group in the nation (your skin manufactures vitamin D when it is exposed to sunlight. Sunscreens and other things can reduce vitamin D creation by your skin).
It is an interesting demographic and physical change. With a surprisingly direct response — rather than anti-depressants, most LDS who have mild depression need to first check their vitamin D levels. Then either tan or take a supplement (unlike tanning, vitamin D supplements do not seem to have any connection with skin cancer).
Of course there is also a study that links air pollution to suicide in Utah. Those who have lived in Salt Lake know that the smog can block out the sunlight, so perhaps these studies are related. It seems that there are other factors to blame than simply membership in the LDS Church. What are your thoughts?