April 18, 2009

You Ask, I Answer: Depression & Vitamin D

I just got my blood labs done to test for vitamin D deficiency.

My doctor said that my recent depression symptoms and joint pain could be resulting from that.

I knew about rickets and vitamin D deficiency in children, but what is this chronic pain/fatigue/depression stuff in adults?

How does vitamin D deficiency play a role in that?

-- Christine (last name unknown)

Via the blog

Thanks to more funding -- which means more research -- we are finally getting a glimpse at all of Vitamin D's important functions.

Many people don't realize that the term "vitamin" isn't even 100 years old (that anniversary will occur in 2012).

Vitamin D, meanwhile, wasn't discovered until 1922.

In any case, recent research on vitamin D status, depression, and joint pain appears promising (more studies are needed before any of this can be established as fact, though).

As far as depression is concerned, this is the reasoning:

* Blood samples of individuals experiencing clinical depression show lower levels of
25-hydroxyvitamin D (the active form of vitamin D measured in blood).

* The brain contains vitamin D receptors, which vitamin D uses in the synthesis of vital peptides and compounds.

* Recent studies on individuals suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) concluded that those who supplemented 600 International Units of vitamin D reported feeling better more quickly than those who did not supplement. It is worth noting that neither group used special UV lamps for the study.

This is not to say that vitamin D "cures" depression. The current line of thinking is that low vitamin D status can exacerbate some types of depression, and that correcting this inadequacy may be one factor than can help speed up recovery.

As for the second half of your question -- since Vitamin D is tightly linked with calcium and phosphorus in bone metabolism, it only makes sense that inadequate levels could have an effect on joints.

The latest studies theorize that deficiencies of vitamin D make it more difficult for the body to repair cartilage and joint damage from arthritis.

I completely side with scientists and researchers who recommend daily supplementation of 2,000 International Units of vitamin D for the following groups of people:

* Dark-skinned individuals
* Adults over the age of 65
* Anyone living north of Atlanta (from October to April)
* Anyone with limited sun exposure


christine said...

thank you so much for answering my question! i am nervous about my lab results (i find out next week). but, all things considered, having a deficiency would be a lot better than rheumatoid arthritis or another cause for joint pain.

Pam said...

What kind of D supplements do you think are best? I am so confused by the different varieties available.

Andy Bellatti said...


Either a Vitamin D3 or D2 supplement works (the main difference is that D3 is animal derived, while D2 is not).

Pam said...