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Can Supplementing Vitamin D Stop Winter Depression?

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There’s just something about spending the day on a hot beach with the sun on your face and the warm sea air blowing gently against your cheeks that makes you feel good.

Summer is definitely the season of fun – and with the sunny weather and long days, you’ll feel as healthy as ever.

But what do you do when it’s the middle of winter and the sun is nowhere to be seen?

The days get shorter and the nights get longer… and colder too.

In this article we take a look at vitamin D – a nutrient shown to stimulate health and optimal performance, while at the same time decreasing symptoms of winter depression.


What is Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that promotes health in a number of different ways. It acts to regulate the absorption of calcium and phosphorous and helps promote a healthy body composition. It also reduces your risk of metabolic and vascular disease, and helps you maintain a healthy immune system too.

The reason this nutrient can affect the body so much is that it is a precursor for a number of health-regulating steroid hormones such as testosterone.

In fact, vitamin D plays such a potent prehormone role for testosterone production, that it is technically classed as a hormone itself [1].

There are two types of vitamin D:

  • Ergocalciferol – which is known as D2
  • Cholecalciferol – known more commonly as D3

Normal total vitamin D levels differ based on age and gender, but on average, a level between 20-100 ng.dL is considered to be healthy.

The sunshine vitamin – why sunlight is important for D3 levels

Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin.

Why? Because when ultraviolet B (UVB) rays come into contact with your skin it triggers a cascade of reactions that elevate vitamin D concentrations in the body.

The sun only boosts D3 levels though. But because this compound is far more bioactive than D2, that’s not a bad thing.

You can just get  D2 from foods such fatty fish, liver and eggs.

Chances are you’re not getting enough D3

The problem is that unless you live in a warm climate with endless amounts of sun, you just don’t get enough of a trigger to stimulate the right amount of the vitamin.

This is particularly evident in darker skinned people, as lighter skinned men and women don’t need as much UVB to stimulate D3 production. That’s because dark skin contains more melanin – a biological pigment that protects your skin from the sun.


Happy young joyful couple having beach fun laughing together during summer holidays vacation on tropical beach with white sand. Beautiful energetic fresh, man and woman.

Seasonal Affective Disorder and Vitamin D – Winter Depression

There’s nothing worse then the dark and icy depths of winter. The short days, the cold night and the lack of warm sun on your face leaves you feeling down and deflated.

Seasonal affective disorder – with the aptly titled acronym ‘SAD’ – is a mood disorder caused by a change in seasons.

Otherwise known as winter depression, winter blues and seasonal depression, SAD is thought to affect more than 20% of people, and is characterized by symptoms that include a loss of energy, low mood, weight gain, and a struggle getting up in the morning.

Seasonal affective disorder isn’t one of those made up illnesses either. It’s recognized by the classification system of the Diagnostic and statistical manual for mental disorders as well as the American Psychiatric Association DSM-IV criteria.

Interestingly, those who suffer from SAD often sleep much longer than non-sufferers – almost 2 hours more [2].

This is because those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder often find that their internal body clock becomes unbalanced. Why? Simply because a lack of sunlight can change the way that your body’s sleep-wake cycles synchronize.

And if you suffer from SAD you’ll find that this synchronization just doesn’t happen as it should do.

Couple this change in biological rhythm with a decrease in activity levels and an increase in appetite, and weight gain is very likely.

And as you know, weight gain and an increase in belly fat can spell disaster for your testosterone levels.


Can Vitamin D Stop the Winter Blues?

Over the last few years there’s been a big increase in the number of clinical studies looking at the role vitamin D plays in mood and depression. As this bank of evidence increases, we’ve started to realize just how important vitamin D is for mental health.

Here is a breakdown of the studies you need to know about the most…

Low vitamin D levels results in low mood and cognitive decline

One study found that when vitamin D levels are low, the risk of suffering mental health and neurological disorders increases rapidly [3].

In a group of 80 volunteers with an average vitamin D levels of only 18.58 ng.dL, as many  as 58% had low vitamin D levels; and that was strongly correlated to an ‘active mood disturbance’ such as winter depression.

Not only that, those with the lowest levels also performed worse on a memory and concentration test called the Short Blessed Test (SBT).

Vitamin D decreases symptoms of clinical depression

In a large scale systematic review [4], vitamin D was seen to significantly reduce the symptoms of depression in those with a clinical diagnosis.

In the study, 7 individual clinical trials including over 3,100 participants, showed a clear relationship between symptoms of depression and the amount of vitamin D supplementation each volunteer was taking.

Bottom line – D3 improved mood.

Vitamin D3 supplements boost your mood in as little as 5 days

According to a clinical research paper published in Psychopharmcology, even very short-term supplementation of D3 can enhance mood and reduce the symptoms of winter depression [5].

In the study, 44 healthy men and women were given either a placebo drug, 400 IU or 800IU of D3 during late winter – the coldest and darkest period of the year.

After 5 days they were invited to complete a questionnaire that highlighted their mood, vitality and perceptions of the energy levels they thought they had.

The scientists collated the information and then used a computer analysis to gather results.

And what they found pointed out the benefits of using the supplement:

  • Symptoms of SAD had reduced
  • Food preferences were healthier
  • Sleep quality had improved
  • Their body clock had remained balanced
  • Increased serotonin levels – the natural chemical responsible for regulating mood

Young man looking out of a window at snow depressed
  • Key Point: Using a vitamin D supplement helps to balance out your mood, energy levels, body composition and cognitive ability.

How Can You Boost Vitamin D Levels in Winter?

The safest way to elevate your sixth steroid hormone is to take a high-quality supplement containing vitamin D3.

Various governing bodies suggest specifically D3 because it is more bioactive compared to D2, which has little value for SAD.

Because extended exposure to UVB rays may increase the risk of skin cancer, D3 supplementation leaves you happy in the fact that you’re taking a safe alternative. While some people choose to use sunbeds to boost their mood, this could be dangerous in the long-term.

Supplements are much safer.

TestoFuel gives you all of the D3 you need

TestoFuel is a premium-grade testosterone booster, specially formulated to give you optimal nutrition.

With the primary goal of providing all of the essential, natural nutrients your body needs to boost health, performance and hormones, this top-of-the-range supplement is all you need to elevate your mood and ramp up your gym gains.

  • Build more muscle and strength – completely redesign your physique
  • Through-the roof energy levels – train harder for longer
  • Enhanced recovery – maximize results and hit the gym more regularly
  • Improve your mood and motivation – add relentless vigor and boost your mood

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References

  1. Haussler, MR et al. The vitamin D hormone and its nuclear receptor: molecular actions and disease states. J Endoc. 1997; 154: 557-573
  2. Targum, SD et al. Seasonal Affective Disorder. Psychiatry. 2008; 5(5): 31-33
  3. Wilkins, CH et al. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with low mood and worse cognitive performance in older adults. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2006; 14(12): 1032-40
  4. Shaffer, JA et al. Vitamin D supplementation for depressive symptoms: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Psychosom Med. 2014; 76(3): 190-6
  5. Lansdowne, AT et al. Vitamin D3 enhances mood in healthy subjects during winter. Psychopharmacology. 1998; 135(4): 319-23

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