Depressed & Lacking Energy? You May be Deficient in this Simple Vitamin.

Via Marwa Azab
on Mar 11, 2016
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Why are there such high rates of depression in people who live in the Northern Hemisphere?

What about allergies and unexplained weight gain?

Here is a secret that doctors don’t always mention in regular check-ups: even a mild deficiency in vitamin D can be associated with depression, diabetes, allergies, asthma, certain cancers, and more.

A study in the journal of Neurology found that moderate to severe vitamin D deficiency in older adults may double the risk of some dementias. The relationship between vitamin D deficiency and many diseases is not surprising given that many body organs including the brain have receptors for vitamin D, and therefore are affected by it.

Here is the twist: vitamin D is actually a hormone that our bodies make. We used to think that its only role was to regulate calcium levels, but we now know that it does much more. Exactly how it is associated with these pathologies is still not clear.

Why would people who live in the Northern Hemisphere be at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency? We only get about 10% of vitamin D from food, our bodies mostly make vitamin D by absorbing sunlight through the skin, then the kidney makes the active form of the vitamin. As we become more dependent on technology, we abandon the sun even more. Staying indoors means we get less sun, which contributes to vitamin D deficiency and increasing rates of depression. Adults at work in cubicles, children in air-conditioned classrooms and even animals in indoor cages.

We grow our food in a way that tends to deprive us of vitamins and other nutrients. For example, mushrooms are a good source of vitamin D, but since industrially they are grown in the dark, they are usually lacking in the vitamin.

Who is at risk? A “yes” answer to any or all the following might mean an increase in vitamin D intake is due: unexplained sadness, aching bones (sometimes confused for arthritis, but imaging and blood tests show no arthritis), allergies, unexplained weight gain, pre-diabetic, working night shifts, living in North America, living at high altitude, being dark skinned (the melanin in dark skin prevents maximal benefit from sunlight), or generally being a person that spends most of their time indoors.

What can be done about vitamin D deficiency? The first step is to ask the doctor to check our vitamin D levels, so we can decide on how aggressively to tackle it. Try to get some sunlight, about 30 min exposure to sun twice a week should be sufficient (of course watch out for skin cancer too). Add foods rich in vitamin D to your daily diet: fatty fish, canned tuna, mushrooms grown in sunlight, beef liver, cod liver oil (excellent source), egg yolk, fortified cereals, fortified milk and fortified juices.

Another option is to take vitamin D supplements—studies have shown that drops are more effective than tablets or capsules. The recommended dose will vary based on your age, location and symptoms, but it is generally acknowledged that even infants are safe taking up to 1000 IU/day.


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Author: Marwa Azab

Editor: Renée Picard

Image: Suzanne Schroeter at Flickr 


About Marwa Azab

Marwa Azab lectures for the psychology, human development and biology departments. Her interdisciplinary background in psychology and biology affords her the opportunity to speak on various topics. She has a masters in Counseling Psychology and a PhD in Biological Sciences with emphasis on Neuroscience. She is a writer, public speaker, and life coach. Check out herTEDx talk. You can send her a speaking invitation on facebook or Linkedin.


2 Responses to “Depressed & Lacking Energy? You May be Deficient in this Simple Vitamin.”

  1. laportama says:

    This was one of the many, many studies that confounds and conflates and confuses CAUSATION versus CONSEQUENCE; in other words, epiphenomena.
    in fact I've already seen equally controlled studies that negate this one, so who do you believe. And you CANNOT prove that replacing/supplementing D reverses or prevents the many cardiovascular,neurological, or life-style issues that are attributed to it. That is also a recurring problem in picking so many diverse and disparate symptoms — these look just like thyroid and several others — and trying to create a syndrome. You're more likely to be correct in naming the constellation pareidolia, because most likely that's what it is. The levels (WHICH TEST?) are notoriously unreliable. Remember also that "fortified" means artificially added to food stuffs. and that <a href=";” target=”_blank”>‎ supplementation is not entirely benign.
    If all it took to treat people were algorhythms, anyone could do it. That's not how the organic self really works in body/mind/spirit.
    But hey, anybody's entitled to a mistake, right?
    One tends to do better when one stick to one's area of expertise.

  2. Dr. Marwa Azab says:

    Hello and thanks for reading the article.

    1. You are correct causation is often conflated with consequences. There is no claims of cause and effect in this article or the referenced articles. The studies referenced in this article are peer-reviewed articles. Can you share some of the articles that negate the reputable ones in this article?

    Also, There is no claim of cause and effect in this article, please re-read the article more carefully. E.g. ” study in the journal of Neurology found that moderate to severe vitamin D deficiency in older adults may double the risk of some dementias” Notice the use of the word ‘may’.

    2. This article if anything is promoting a holistic approach and not an algorithmic one. It is condoning a critical evaluation of body-mind causes. Again, re-read it again with an open mind.

    3. This is not my opinion. This is a summary of many reputable peer-reviewed studies. All I did is utiliz my academic background in Biology & Psychology & Human Development to make the pedantic, jargon saturated articles more conducive to the general public.

    Thanks for your feedback