By R. Ryan Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist
Many students may be aware of Vitamin D and with decreasing sunlight, many might not be getting enough vitamin D.
• Initially thought of as a vitamin, it is now believed that it works more like a hormone and has many functions throughout the body.
• Inadequate vitamin D has been implicated in fibromyalgia (1), sleep (2,3), athletic performance (4), energy levels (5) as well as bone disease (7).
• A recent study had discussed findings regarding vitamin d and depression.
What did this study involve?
• 40 patients between 18 and 65 y of age with Major Depressive disorder.
• Randomly assigned to get either a single capsule of 50 kIU vitamin D per week (n = 20) or placebo (n = 20) for 8 weeks.
• This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.
What did the authors analyze?
• Fasting blood samples before and after.
• The primary [Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), which examines depressive symptoms].
• Secondary outcomes such as glucose homeostasis variables, lipid profiles, hs-CRP, and biomarkers of oxidative stress.
What did the study show?
• After 8 weeks of treatment with vitamin D, depression scores improved in the patients receiving vitamin D supplementation.
• The improvement was also related to improvement in vitamin d levels.
How can I get vitamin D tested?
• There is a blood test for vitamin D, which can be ordered by your prescriber.
Can I get vitamin D from food?
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) (7),
• “Very few foods naturally have vitamin D. Fortified foods provide most of the vitamin D in American diets.
• Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel are among the best sources.
• Beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks provide small amounts.
• Mushrooms provide some vitamin D. In some mushrooms that are newly available in stores, the vitamin D content is being boosted by exposing these mushrooms to ultraviolet light.
• Almost all of the U.S. milk supply is fortified with 400 IU of vitamin D per quart. But foods made from milk, like cheese and ice cream, are usually not fortified.
• Vitamin D is added to many breakfast cereals and to some brands of orange juice, yogurt, margarine, and soy beverages; check the labels.”
Is too much Vitamin D harmful?
Too much vitamin D can be harmful.
According to the NIH (7):
“Signs of toxicity include nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, constipation, weakness, and weight loss. And by raising blood levels of calcium, too much vitamin D can cause confusion, disorientation, and problems with heart rhythm. Excess vitamin D can also damage the kidneys.”
What is the main cause of too much Vitamin D?
• Vitamin D toxicity almost always occurs from overuse of supplements (7).
• Excessive sun exposure doesn’t cause vitamin D poisoning because the body limits the amount of this vitamin it produces (7).
What are some caveats?
• To avoid the risk of harm, taking Vitamin D supplements should be done under the supervision of your prescriber/doctor.
• This is the 1st study showing benefits on depression with high dose weekly Vitamin D supplementation.
• Further studies are needed.
• Some previous studies showed mixed results though under-dosing and other factors may have been involved (6).
• Vitamin D has shown benefits in some studies and in clinical experience in psychiatry for select patients.
• Benefits on vitamin D may extend beyond mood.
• Treatment with vitamin D with supplement or prescription may NOT be suitable for everyone, but it may be worth discussing with your prescriber.
Is your mood, energy level, etc impacted by low vitamin D? Could replacement benefit you? Check with your health care provider if treatment is appropriate for you.
What are some resources regarding Vitamin D?
Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.
1. Jesus CA, Feder D, Peres MF. The role of Vitamin D in pathophysiology and treatment of fibromyalgia. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2013 Aug;17(8):355.
2. Bertisch SM, et al. 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Concentration and Sleep Duration and Continuity: Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Sleep. 2015 Aug 1;38(8):1305-11
3. McCarty DE, et al. The link between vitamin D metabolism and sleep medicine. Sleep Med Rev. 2014 Aug;18(4):311-9. Epub 2013 Sep 26.
4. B Hamilton. Vitamin D and Human Skeletal Muscle. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010 Apr; 20(2): 182–190.
5. Al–Dujaili E, Revuelta Iniesta R. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-11/sfe-vdp102915.php Preliminary study presented Fall 2015 at the Society for Endocrinology Annual Conference in Edinburgh.
6. Sepehrmanesh Z, et al. Vitamin D Supplementation Affects the Beck Depression Inventory, Insulin Resistance, and Biomarkers of Oxidative Stress in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trial. J Nutr. 2015 Nov 25. pii: jn218883. [Epub ahead of print].