Vitamin D and the Link to SAD

December 08, 2014

Depression and Vitamin D – The Link to SAD 

 Reference: Med Hypothesis Dec 2014 

 We are now in the middle of the darkest days of the year with the least amount of sunlight. In Milwaukee, the angle of the sun has dropped to about 220, Our ability to make Vitamin D has dropped to zero back in October and now, two months later, we have lost most of our Vitamin D.  It has been two months and the half life of D in our body is about two months.   If we haven’t been on supplementation, our Vitamin D level of 45 back in July is now down to 25. If we are African American, we have dropped from 16 down to 8.   Skin pigment protects skin but also slows Vitamin D production, making for lower levels when living at higher latitudes. 

Is this a problem? Well, YES! That’s what this study shows.   Stewart and Kimlin reviewed 100 studies on Vitamin D and depression and combined all their results. They concluded that there is a clear relationship between seasonal affective disorder and Vitamin D levels. Seasonal affective disorder affects about 10% of humans to a degree enough to diagnose.   That means every one of us has a bit of a tendency, some are just more vulnerable. To date, the method we have used in seasonal affective disorder treatment has been lightboxes on the mistaken missing ingredient was the bright light.  Results suggest that we get a bit of help from that, though not everyone seems to get the benefit we would like. 

 Why would D help?   Vitamin D is your body’s hormone that makes cells mature into mature cells. In your brain, you have nerve cells making serotonin and dopamine.   Both of those neurotransmitters are linked to depression.   If you don’t have mature nerve cells, they aren’t going to make serotonin and dopamine, and your brain doesn’t have the tools needed to feel a normal mood. We evolved in Africa where we got D year-round. Moving to northern latitudes led to lighter skin and lighter hair so that our bodies could make Vitamin D more easily. That allows us to at least live in northern, sun-deprived climates because we can still make decent bones with annual 4-6 months of D dipping to lower levels.   But that doesn’t mean our mood doesn’t take a nose-dive. This might sound intuitively obvious. 

(This blog has written about it before in reference to one of the first articles about SAD and Vitamin D by Dr Vieth. Since that time, I have advised hundreds of people to take Vitamin D to help with their winter blues, and have had hundreds of happy responses.   When I saw this review, I just had to add to the knowledge. If you haven’t been on D before and see this newsletter and want to get started, take 100,000 IU of D today. Yes, 100,000. That is the most common means of giving D in Europe: 100,000 once a month. It is known to raise your serum level 14 ng in one day.)  If you just start on 5000 IU a day, it will take you a full year before you get to a level of 55 or 60.   In that time, you may conclude you didn’t get any benefit.   So, get your loading dose today.   Either that or take the next plane to Cancun, where you still can get some D. 

 WWW: What will work for me.   My blood level dropped to 29 when I was taking 5000 IU a day and gardening. My skin doesn’t make it anymore at my advanced age of 63. I must have a crummy D receptor – so back to 10 K a day for me. My mood is pretty good.   

 Pop Quiz

  1. Vitamin D might be the cure for SAD instead of lightboxes? T or F.                     Answer: That is certainly what this study suggests, but that conclusion would be too assertive. It is still an association, albeit a strong one.
  1. You don’t get enough D in winter. T or F                   Answer:  True. You stop making it about Oct 1 in Wisconsin, no matter what sun exposure – the angle of the sun is too low.
  1. The half-life of D in your blood is about 2 months. T or F                      Answer:  Perfect. So your level is now half what it was on Oct 8th
  1. Vitamin D is important to the manufacturing of serotonin, the neurotransmitter most important in depression.                      Answer:   True
  1. A single dose of 100,000 IU is safe and effective at raising your blood level 14 ng in one day. T or F                         Answer:   True