Low Vitamin D and Depression

Wednesday, 19 Jun 2013 12:49 PM

By David Brownstein, M.D.

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Question: Can you tell me if there is a connection between vitamin D levels and depression and panic disorder?

Dr. Brownstein's Answer:

A report in the January 21, 2013, issue of the Journal Clinical Nutrition examined the link
between low vitamin D levels and the risk of developing depression and panic disorder.

The study analyzed 18,558 British people born in March 1958. At age 45, the subjects’ blood samples were analyzed for vitamin D levels. The participants were also interviewed for evidence of common mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias.

The researchers found an inverse relationship between vitamin D levels and depression and panic disorders. At age 45, a vitamin D level of 30 ng/mL (75 nmol/L) was associated with a 43 percent lower risk of depression and a 67 percent lower risk of panic attacks.

“This study provides support for an association of low [vitamin D levels] and subsequent risk of depression in mid-adulthood,” wrote the scientists.

I have been checking vitamin D levels in my patients for nearly 20 years. I can assure you that the vast majority of patients test low.

Human beings are designed to manufacture vitamin D from sun exposure. I have seen countless patients come to me fatigued and achy who improved their condition with sun exposure.

Don’t get me wrong: You shouldn’t allow the sun to burn your skin. However, moderate sun exposure is less harmful than hiding away from the sun.

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