Vitamin D and Your Brain
by Mary Ann Copson
Well, it's too early to tell because there are simply not enough good studies. Most of
the studies have encountered several shortcomings such as:
- Using a very low amount of vitamin D (many past studies have used only 400-800
IU which we now know is like using a homeopathic dose of Vitamin D)
- Measuring the wrong Vitamin D metabolite -1,25(OH)2D3 instead of 25(OH)D. (It's
true -and these are our scientists we depend on. I mean, really - that difference may
be gibberish to you, but they should know better.)
- Using the less potent form of Vitamin D (ergocalciferol - D2 instead of the more
potent and naturally occurring form of Vitamin D - cholecalciferol - D3)
- Not getting the vitamin D3 levels to optimal (50-80 ng/mL) and many studies not
even getting the D3 levels up to the minimum of 35 ng/mL over several months.
But evidence is mounting:
One major study done with depressed subjects during Canada's long winter showed
a profound increase in vitamin D levels with supplementation of 4000 IU of vitamin D
- and a corresponding dramatic increase in the subjects' sense of well-being.
In some research done in 2007, it was found that vitamin D deficiency correlates
with depression and anxiety in fibromyalgia sufferers. And mice with abnormal
Vitamin D brain receptors (leading to low vitamin D levels) have increased incidence
of anxiety, aggression, poor grooming habits, maternal pup neglect, and cannibalism.
Having optimal Vitamin D levels has even been implicated in the prevention of
schizophrenia. Male infants who are not supplemented with vitamin D are 12 times
more likely to develop schizophrenia than those who receive vitamin D
Research shows that the elderly who are vitamin D deficient have 12 times the
increase in depression risk. Elderly people with low vitamin D levels are three and a
half times as likely to be admitted to a nursing home.
There are a several studies showing that Vitamin D can positively affect seasonal
affective disorder (SAD). Some even say that up to 75% of SAD sufferers can reduce
their depression with the use of Vitamin D.
And We Do Know that Vitamin D Has Major Effects On the Brain and
It appears that Vitamin D may have a positive effect on the synthesis of excitatory
Summer sunlight - which is necessary for Vitamin D production in the body - also
increases brain serotonin levels twice as much as winter sunlight.
There are receptors for Vitamin D in neurons and glial cells in the brain.
The biological effects of Vitamin D appear to play a role in the brain's detoxification
The genes for important enzymes that are involved in Vitamin D metabolism are
found in the brain.
Vitamin D has been shown to profoundly affect the brain's neurotransmitters that are
involved with depression.
Several studies have now shown that prenatal vitamin D deficiency in animals and
humans has important ramifications for developing brains. Some even suggesting
that low prenatal Vitamin D levels can negatively and permanently affect brain
development in children.
Vitamin D is needed for the inducement of what is called nerve-growth factor (NGF)
in the brain. NGF is a protein that is essential for the development of nerve cells in
the brain and elsewhere. Without enough Vitamin D there is not the proper
production of NGF, which can negatively effect nerve cell growth in the brain and the
central nervous system.
The Power of Association
There is enough evidence to say that low Vitamin D levels are associated with major
depression and that low vitamin D levels and major depression have substantially
increased in the last century. Coincidence? Cause?
Many diseases associated with Vitamin D deficiency like
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Decreased bone density
- Heart Disease
...are also strongly associated with depression - and apparently also on the increase
in the last century.
Will Vitamin D Cure Depression- And Other Mood Disorders?
Just like the diseases listed above depression and mood disorders are a multifactorial
disease. It is unlikely that you will see a total resolution to any multifactorial disease
from any one remedy.
But research suggests and logical thinking will tell you the only one wise course: If
you experience depression or other mood disorder, get your 25(OH)D blood levels
checked and work with a knowledgeable health care practitioner who is familiar with
the new vitamin D guidelines and get your vitamin D levels up to optimal (50-80
ng/mL) - and keep them there.
If you are not depressed or don't have any mood disorder - do the same!
Remember, Vitamin D is not a medication and for most people does not require
monitoring by a physician. But it does require that you be guided by a knowledgeable
health care practitioner who is up to date on the new Vitamin D research.
About The Author
Mary Ann Copson is a Mood and Brain Chemistry expert. She can help you bring your
brain chemistry back into balance with nutritional and wellness, dietary, herbal,
supplement, lifestyle, and personal foundations recommendations.
As you probably know, Vitamin D
deficiency is common and - as you
may not know - is associated with
many psychiatric and neurological
imbalances. Awareness of the Vitamin
D crisis is growing as more and more
associations are made to Vitamin D
Does Vitamin D cure depression?
Other Mood Disorders and Mental
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remedies and before making any drastic changes to your diet or exercise program.
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