Vitamin D and Depression

One of the biggest problems faced during the long winter months is that a lot of us find we go to work and return in the dark, often with scant sunshine during the daytime. During our working day many of us are assaulted by artificial fluorescent lighting as our main source of “sunshine”.

This has a huge impact, leaving us wondering why we feel sluggish and off balance. Sunshine is our main source of vitamin D and with a constant lack of it we can hit a downward spiral, triggering many health issues.

In fact, about 80% of us are not getting enough and as a result people have to deal with problems such as anxiety, depression, dementia, and diabetes. Vitamin D is beneficial for our health through its powerful anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. It is critical for our well-being and we are being starved of it.

Vitamin D receptors begin to form in our brain tissue during the early stages of fetal development. Once activated, these receptors encourage nerve growth within our brain. Studies show that with the correct levels of vitamin D, the fundamental chemicals in our brain become enhanced and guard our cells by optimizing our glial cells to full power, knitting damaged neurons back to a healthy state. Glial cells are known as the “supporting cells” of the nervous system, making them integral to protecting our neurons.

Is it “Bad Mood” or a Lack of Vitamin D?

It is alarming to know that senior citizens who lack vitamin D can as much as double their chances of developing mood swings, depression, and dementia.  A recent study compared a group of seniors who had low to severely low vitamin levels with those who fell within the normal range and found the following results:

  • 53 percent of seniors with a low vitamin D count had an increased risk of dementia.
  • 70 percent of seniors with a low vitamin D count had a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Those with abnormally low vitamin D deficiencies had 125 percent chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

An 8 year long running study was undertaken by Rush University Medical Centre and they found that vitamin D deficiency is directly linked to depression and dementia. Robert S. Wilson, a leading researcher states:

“These findings are exciting because they suggest depression truly is a risk factor for dementia, and if we can target and prevent or treat depression and causes of stress we may have the potential to help people maintain their thinking and memory abilities into old age.”

These studies show that low vitamin D levels give us a predisposition to depression, essentially raising the risk of getting both depression and dementia.

Other studies conducted on seniors who had the lowest levels of vitamin D, resulted in them becoming 11 times more prone to depression than seniors with normal levels.  A Times Online article discussed:

“People with vitamin D levels below 20 ng/mL had an 85 percent increased risk of depression compared to those with vitamin D levels greater than 30 ng/mL”. 

The disorder SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) has for some time been associated with vitamin D deficiency and the research once again links back to the effect this has on depression.  A double-blind randomized trial, published in 2008, concludes:

It appears to be a relation between serum levels of 25(OH)D and symptoms of depression. Supplementation with high doses of vitamin D seems to ameliorate these symptoms indicating a possible causal relationship.”

Here Comes the Sun!

The best way to naturally get your fill of vitamin D is through sunshine. However, with the ozone layer being so thin in some areas of the planet, we need to do this sensibly. It is recommended that we all use sunscreen protection, and now there are some smartphone apps available which will let you know how much UV radiation and IUs of vitamin D your local area is getting. You can configure the apps to optimize your personal settings to include details such as your skin tone and age, letting you know how long it is safe to be in the sun and when to get out.

Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to step outside to beaming sunshine all year round.  One alternative is a “safe” sunbed. It is recommended to look for one that doesn’t run on a magnetic ballast system to generate light. These are harmful as they are sources of EMF fields (electromagnetic), which can contribute to cancer. You can identify one of these beds by hearing a loud buzzing noise while tanning.  If there is no “buzzing” then you are most likely on an electronic ballast system, which is considered safe.

Another alternative is to get onto a good quality vitamin D supplement. The experts recommend that 35 IUs (international units) of vitamin D per pound of body weight is ideal. However, it is extremely important to combine this with vitamin K2. When vitamin D is digested, your body will create more vitamin K2 dependent proteins, and their job is to move the calcium to their designated areas. If you do not combine this with vitamin K2, these proteins will remain inactive and unrealized, giving an unsatisfactory result. Vitamin K2 helps to transport calcium to the correct areas of your body, such as your bones and teeth. Without vitamin K2, calcium can end up in areas it should not be, such as soft tissue and arteries where it can build up and cause harmful hardening. When taken together, both of these nutrients will produce a result that strengthens your bones and helps improve your heart functions.

Keeping on Top of Things

The best form of attack is defense, and it is recommended that you test your vitamin D levels at least once a year, preferably in the middle of winter. This will give you a reading where your vitamin D levels are possibly at their lowest and you are most vulnerable – the result should ideally be no less than 60 ng/ml. Optimal vitamin D levels will be the best possible preventive maintenance that your body could hope for and it is of vital importance to put this at the top of your health priority check list to prevent a host of chronic ailments.

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