Alleviate seasonal affective disorder with vitamin D
by Karen Langston —
Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that occurs during the fall and winter months when sunshine is reduced. The cause is unknown but can be treated with phototherapy (a type of bright light), antidepressants and supplementation, including vitamin D.
When it comes to seasonal affective disorder, numerous studies indicate low levels of vitamin D3 in the blood can lead to depression. Vitamin D plays a role in brain development, and receptors for vitamin D have been found in several parts of the brain. Some of these receptors are linked to the development of depression. Researchers are working on cracking the mystery on how vitamin D works in the brain.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that functions as a prohormone, playing a role in the secretion of insulin by the pancreas, which helps in the regulation of blood sugar and can adversely affect mood and energy levels, as well as sleep.
Do not guess; test. Do not start taking vitamin D3 until you have had a blood test to check your levels. Get the whole picture by testing 25-Hydroxyvitamin D total, serum and 25-Hydroxyvitamin D3, as this will give you a good indication of how much vitamin D your body has. Vitamin D3 is both a fat-soluble vitamin and prohormone, which may lead to toxicity if you take too much.
If you are in a deficient state, you may need to supplement with therapeutic dosages to see positive effects. Once you know your blood levels, you can then supplement accordingly with the help of your health care practitioner.
A deficiency of vitamin D3 is more prevalent than we think. Deficiency can happen from a lack of sun exposure. Those who are bedridden, work night shifts or tend to stay indoors are at risk. Other factors include a lack of eating foods rich in vitamin D or taking medications that can increase the need for it, such as corticosteroids, cholesterol-lowering medications, anticonvulsants and laxatives.
You can pump up your vitamin D intake through food and sunshine. The best sources are found in oily fish, such as sardines, herring, mackerel, halibut, salmon, tuna and oysters, along with liver, eggs and raw dairy products. You can supplement with fish oils such as krill, salmon and cod liver oil.
If you need to boost your mood and energy levels or feel low during the winter months, get your vitamin D status evaluated and beat the winter blues.
Eyles, D.W., Smith, S., Kinobe, R., et. al. Distribution of the vitamin D receptor and 1alpha-hydroxylase in human brain. J. Chem. Neuroanat. 2005;29: 21-30.
Kjaergaard, M., Waterloo, K., Wang, K., et. al. Effects of vitamin D supplement on depression scores in people with low levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D: nested case-control study and randomized trial. Br. J. Psychiatry. 2012 Jul 12. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22790678.
Karen Langston is a certified holistic nutritionist training health care practitioner. She advocates that the keys to preventing and reversing symptoms are by understanding digestion, detoxification and how vitamin and minerals work in the body. karenlangston.com or 623-252-4325.
Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 35, Number 1, February/March 2016.