Vitamin D shortfall linked to seasonal depression, researchers say
Low levels of vitamin D are already linked to a host of developmental and other physical ailments, but now researchers say missing the nutrient may also be a major contributing factor for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or clinical depression caused by a lack of sunlight.
There is little chance of leading a truly simple life today because so much of it is done with the advice of experts. With food, we are bombarded with nutritional tips; and there is no shortage of instruction on how to bring up our children.
We tend to believe the advice of people with a good track record and evident qualifications. But sometimes they get it wrong, sometimes they disagree, and that is where the simple life ends.
Take dermatologists, who, over the years, have advised and frightened people into avoiding the sun. There is a link between excessive sun exposure and melanoma, the form of skin cancer that carries a high risk of death.
But the link is not clear cut. Melanoma occurs in the mouth, the anus and on the soles of the feet, areas that get little or no sun, as well as on the face, which may get a lot. So the relationship with the sun is not obvious.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CAMH), the winter blues are a type of depression that follows a seasonal pattern, usually starting in late autumn and lasting until spring. It is attributed to a lack of sunlight, which is thought to have an affect on our moods, sleep patterns, appetites and daily activities.
"We believe there are several reasons for this, including that vitamin D levels fluctuate in the body seasonally, in direct relation to seasonally available sunlight," Stewart says in a press release accompanying the study.
The brain also uses vitamin D during the synthesis of serotonin and dopamine both key chemicals in the brain whose levels are linked to depression, researchers say.
Michael Kimlin, a Queensland professor who works in cancer prevention research, says that "evidence exists that low levels of dopamine and serotonin are linked to depression, so it's logical there may be a relationship between low levels of vitamin D and depressive symptoms."
He adds that many studies have found that it is common for depressed people to have low levels of vitamin D.
"What we know now is that there are strong indications that maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D are also important for good mental health," Kimlin said, adding just "a few minutes of sunlight exposure each day should be enough for most people to maintain an adequate vitamin D status."
Via - news.nationalpost.com