The Dosage of Vitamin D for Depression

The nation's stores of vitamin D have come under more scrunity in recent years, with blood levels of the nutrient linked to a wide range of metabolic functions. Any deficiency in such an important nutrient can have serious impacts on your quality of life, with depression being one such consequence.

A doctor consulting with a depressed young woman. (Image: monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images)

Vitamin D

Affecting the expression of more than 2,000 genes in the human body, vitamin D affects a host of biological systems. The nutrient can boost the immune system function, arrest the development of cancerous cells, improve cardiovascular health, protect against autoimmunity and play a role in both mood and metabolic rate. Dr. Joseph Mercola, the physician who wrote "The No Grain Diet," points out that these far-reaching effects make vitamin D an effective tool in fighting a variety of chronic diseases.

Winter Deficiency

The National Institute of Health points out that your body can manufacture vitamin D-3, a potent form of the nutrient, in specialized cells in the skin. This occurs following exposure to sunshine. Although foods such as oily fish and eggs contain small amounts of vitamin D-3 also, this system operates as your primary source of vitamin D. As a result, your vitamin D levels likely fall significantly during the winter months when the sunshine becomes too week to produce the nutrient at the skin. At this time, rates of depression tend to rise.

Neurotransmitters

The connection between low vitamin D levels and depression lie in a particular enzyme that depends on a steady supply on the nutrient. The Vitamin D Council explain how tyrosine hydroxylase, an enzyme that converts tyrosine into the potent neurotransmitter dopamine, cannot operate efficiently in cases of vitamin D deficiency. Without sufficient dopamine, the metabolic rate drops and a state of depression may kick in.

Dosage for Depression

The Vitamin D Council carefully outlines that, while vitamin D has consistently helped individuals suffering from seasonal depression in experiments, it may not work so well in more serious cases. It explains that more research must be conducted before it can lay down more solid guidelines on dosages for countering seasonal blues, but suggest that 5,000 international units per day represents a sensible choice to boost mood, immune function and metabolic rate during the winter months.

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