|Does Vitamin D Boost Your Mood?-A
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July 21, 2010, last updated April 11, 2013
By Sarah Norton, Staff Columnist
The evidence on how Vitamin D affects your mood is unclear. You may
have seen recommendations to eat foods high in Vitamin D to combat
depression. These reports were based on early studies, in particular a
2007 study from Ireland, that linked low Vitamin D levels with
increased incidences of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Now, new
research studies have cast serious doubt on a link between Vitamin D
and your mood.
A new 2010 study from the University of Cambridge in London has
found no link whatsoever between the amount of Vitamin D in your
body and your mood.
The 2010 study was conducted by a team of researchers led by Dr.
Oscar Franco, an Assistant Professor in Public Health. The team
examined the health records of 3000 people and tested the amount of
Vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D) present in their blood.
Conclusion? They found no link between symptoms of depression and
the levels of Vitamin D in your blood.
As the study noted: “Few studies have explored the association
between blood 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations and depression in
the general population, " said Dr. Franco. “Previous studies into the
effects of vitamin D supplementation have produced mixed results.
More studies are still needed to evaluate whether vitamin D is
associated with seasonal affective disorders, but our study does raise
questions about the effects of taking more vitamin D to combat
Why Is the Evidence on Vitamin D and Mood So Mixed?
Why did the 2010 study and the early studies reach opposite
conclusions? The answer may lie in the number of people examined.
The 2007 study only examined 75 people. That study, conducted by a
team of doctors from the Department of Rheumatology, Musgrave
Hospital in Belfast Ireland, asked 75 patients to answer a questionaire
to determine whether they were depressed. The doctors then drew
blood from the 75 patients to determine their levels of Vitamin D (25-
hydroxyvitamin D). They found that 10 of the patients has deficient
levels of Vitamin D, 42 had Vitamin D levels somewhat lower than
recommended and 23 had normal Vitamin D levels. When they
compared the charts of Vitamin D levels with the answers to the
questionnaire on depression, they discovered a high correlation
between patients with low Vitamin D levels and symptoms of
Later studies have criticized this 2007 study because of small number
of people examined and because it did not conclusively establish a link
between the answers n the questionnaire and the low levels of Vitamin
D. Could the patients have been depressed because of the low level of
some other vitamin or compound in their diets?
More research is clearly needed to settle this issue.
What form of Vitamin D should you take, if any?
What should you do, in the meantime? Since Vitamin D is not toxic to
your body at recommended levels ---about 1000 to 5000 mg a day—
you should ensure that you are either getting enough exposure to
daylight, and you should take a supplement of Vitamin D. Also, be
aware that not all Vitamin D supplement contain the form of Vitamin D
which researchers have linked to improvements in mood. Vitamin D
occurs in 2 forms, Vitamin D-3 (also known as cholecalciferol) and
Vitamin D-2 (ergocalciferol). Only Vitamin D-3 has been linked with
improvements in your mood.
The other ready source of Vitamin D is of course, the sun. Exposing
yourself --- your face , arms and legs --- to direct sunlight for at least
30 minutes a day has been linked to a number of health benefits,
including, somewhat surprisingly given the above studies, an uplift in
your mood. Perhaps sunlight's mood-boosting powers have to do with
a combination of both heat and light, which may account for why
exposure to sun boosts our mood while taking Vitamin D pills does not.
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