Tags: SAD | depression | vitamin D | seasonal affective disorder

Vitamin D Fights Winter Depression

By    |   Sunday, 22 February 2015 03:04 PM


We're in the doldrums of winter with short days bringing an increase in seasonal affective disorder or SAD. Depression is a major problem in America, regardless of the season, with 1 in 10 Americans coping with the condition, but it worsens in winter.
 
Many studies have linked a lack of vitamin D, the "sunshine vitamin," to depression. The body makes vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunshine. But many Americans are deficient in vitamin D and others teeter on the brink of deficiency even in the sunniest of months. Overcast winter days can leave many of us who are normally chipper a little depressed. The answer, however, may be as simple as taking a vitamin D supplement.
 
A recent study from the University of Georgia analyzed more than 100 articles that examined the link between vitamin D and depression. Researchers found that a lack of vitamin D appeared to be a major factor in the development of SAD.
 
Vitamin D is necessary for the synthesis of serotonin and dopamine (chemicals associated with depression), so a link between low vitamin D levels and depression is logical, the researchers concluded.
 
The Vitamin D Council recommends 2,000 IU daily and even more if you get little sun exposure.
 
There are other natural remedies that fight depression, and some are as effective as prescription medications without many of the side effects, which include weight gain and sexual dysfunction. They include:
 
• Ginkgo biloba. Seniors face an increased risk for depression, and Ginkgo biloba effectively counteracts a change in brain chemistry — a reduction in serotonin receptor sites — that's associated with aging. In a double-blind study, Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) relieved depression in older patients who had not fully benefited from standard antidepressant drugs. When GBE was added to their antidepressants, their symptoms were reduced by about 75 percent within eight weeks when compared to patients who just took antidepressants.
 
•St. John's wort. The American College of Physicians suggests St. John's wort be considered an option for mild depression. The Cochrane Collaboration, an independent, nonprofit healthcare study group, reviewed the effectiveness of health treatments and studied the results of 29 trials that compared St. John's wort to prescription antidepressants. They found that the herb treated mild-to-moderate depression as effectively as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which include Prozac, Celexa, and Zoloft. In addition, St. John's didn't depress sex drive, a common side effect of prescription antidepressants.
 
• 5-Hydroxytroptophan (5-HTP). 5-HTP elevates levels of serotonin (the "feel good" chemical) naturally and safely. "Numerous double-blind studies have shown that 5-HTP is as effective as SSRIs and tricyclic antidepressants and is less expensive, better tolerated, and associated with fewer and much milder side effects," said naturopathic doctor Michael T. Murray, author of What the Drug Companies Won't Tell You and Your Doctor Doesn't Know. A Japanese study found that 14 out of 17 patients with unipolar depression and 12 out of 21 patients with bipolar depression showed significant improvement taking 5-HTP that was classified as "good" or "very good."
 
• Curcumin. A study at Baylor University found that curcumin, the main compound in the spice turmeric, worked as well as the popular antidepressant Prozac. Study participants were divided into three groups: one took 500 milligrams of curcumin twice a day; the second took a standard dose of Prozac, and the third group took a combination of both. After six weeks, curcumin relieved symptoms of depression as effectively as Prozac. "It was a surprise to us to see that curcumin actually worked as well as the antidepressant," said researcher Ajay Goel, M.D. "
 

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Headline
We're in the doldrums of winter with short days bringing an increase in seasonal affective disorder or SAD. Depression is a major problem in America, regardless of the season, with 1 in 10 Americans coping with the condition, but it worsens in winter. Many studies have...
SAD, depression, vitamin D, seasonal affective disorder
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2015-04-22
Sunday, 22 February 2015 03:04 PM
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