Can Taking Vitamin D Stop Those Winter Blues?
We all love the sunshine, the feeling of warmth on your face that makes you feel so good. There is no doubt that the summer months are the best time of the year, we feel at our best, with a natural tan, we also look better too.
But what about when the days shorten and the sun is nowhere to be seen.. Its cold, dark, and we feel – well plain miserable.
In this article I look at Vitamin D, what it actually is and its beneficial effects on both our physical and mental health.
Table Of Contents
- 1 Can Taking Vitamin D Stop Those Winter Blues?
- 2 There Are In Fact Two Types Of Vitamin D
What Is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a naturally occurring fat soluble vitamin that works to regulate and improve our health in a number of ways.
It can help to protect us from certain metabolic and vascular diseases, it regulates absorption of certain minerals such as phosphorus and calcium, promoting a healthy body composition, it is also good at maintaining a healthy immune system too.
Vitamin D is also a know precursor to the production of certain health regulating steroid hormones including Testosterone.
The fact is that Vitamin D is so effective at aiding production of testosterone that is actually classed as a hormone itself.
There Are In Fact Two Types Of Vitamin D
- Vitamin D2 – (aka Ergocalciferol)
- Vitamin D3 – (aka Cholecalciferol)
Vitamin D2 is only available from foods in your diet, namely Oily fish (Salmon, mackerel, tuna), plus both eggs and liver.
Levels will vary accords to age and sex, but a regular/normal blood level of Vitamin D2 in the body is usually considered to be between 20-100ng.dl
Vitamin D3 is also know as the sunshine vitamin, we cannot get it naturally without exposure to the sun.
When UVB light ( Ultraviolet B Rays) comes in to contact with the surface of our skin, it triggers a hormonal series of events that results in the formation of Vitamin D3 in our body.
This is the only way that we can get Vitamin D3 naturally.
Most Of Us Do Not Get Sufficient Vitamin D3
Unless you live in a place where the sun shines 365 days a year, the chances are that you are not getting your consistent, regular doses of Vitamin D3 naturally.
In fact if you are luck enough to have wall to wall sunshine every day, unless you are irresponsible, you will most likely be wearing sunscreen which in its own right can actually block the UVB and therefore reduce your levels of Vitamin D3.
Those with naturally darker skin require more exposure to the sun than those with lighter skin. With greater levels of melanin protecting their skin, they require more exposure to the sun to maximise their vitamin D3 production.
Winter Depression: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
The shorter days and longer nights of the winter do nothing to boost our moral. Add to the the cold temperatures and the lack of warm sunlight can leave us all feeling down and fed up.
A few years ago, scientists and doctors formally recognised that approx 20% of people do in fact suffer badly at this time of year.
The problem was given a name – Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD for short.
Also referred to as the winter blues, winter depression or seasonal depression, SAD can cause sufferers to have low energy, fatigue, they can gain weight, and feel depressed, not even eating to get up and venture out during this colder days.
Its not just a made up disease either, In the US it is classified as a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and statistical manual for mental disorders.
Sufferers Of SAD usually sleep a lot longer than non sufferers, studies have shown that on average they sleep for 2 hours longer.
This is due to the fact that the disorder effects their internal body clock, affecting their sleep/wake cycle. Experts believe that this is due to the change in daylight hours and the lack of sunlight through the winter months.
If you are unlucky to experience the symptoms of SAD, you will find that the inevitable reduction in activity levels, along with a common increase in appetite can and will mean that you gain weight.
This can lead to increase belly fat, which as we have covered in other articles can and will have an adverse effect on testosterone production along with other health issues.
Can Supplementing With Vitamin D3 Cure The Winter Blues?
There has been a great deal of scientific activity in recent years looking at and studying the effects and benefits of taking Vitamin D3 daily.
These studies have proven how it can effect and determine moods and how it can be so important for our everyday mental and physical health.
Studies Of Note
The first study followed 80 test subjects who had average to low vitamin D levels in their blood. They were all believed to have ‘an active mood disturbance’ such as winter depression.
Those with the lowest levels were also found to perform worse in memory and cognitive function tests ( called the Short Blessed Test – SBT)
A larger study encompassing 7 individual trials involving over 3100 test subjects with signs of depression who were all given Vitamin D3 supplementation.
They all recorded improved moods and reduced depression. The studies showed a direct link between the amount of Vitamin D3 that they were taking and symptoms of depression.
“The bottom line was that Vitamin D3 improved their moods and well being”
One research paper printed in the journal Psychopharmcology demonstrated that even taking Vitamin D3 in the short term had marked effects on the symptoms of Winter depression
44 healthy men and women were spilt into 3 control groups. One group was given either a placebo, another group received 400iu of Vitamin D3 and the third group 800iu during late winter – usually the darkest and coldest part of the winter.
After 5 days they were all invited to fill in a questionnaire that highlighted their general feelings, moods, vitality and their perception of what energy levels they felt that the had.
The answers were collated, entered into a computer to be analysed.
The overall findings were that the groups using the supplement found that:
- They eat better and more healthier
- Slept better
- Their sleep/wake cycle normalised
- they showed increased levels of the ‘feel good hormone’ Seratonin
- Their symptoms of SAD had reduced
How To Boost Vitamin D and Get Rid Of The Winter Blues
In the absence of regular sunlight, the safest way to boost your levels of Vitamin D3 is by taking a quality supplement containing optimum levels of this crucial steroid hormone.
Experts consider that Vitamin D3 is far beneficial than the D2 version. It’s bioavailabilty and the fact that its more beneficial towards so many health issues including SAD.
Its well recognised that prolonged exposure to UVB can increase the risk of skin cancer, this means that regular sun bed treatments (another way to boost UVB and therefore Vit D3) should also be avoided.
Supplements that deliver a known amount of Vitamin D3 and are considered the safest way.
How Much Vitamin D3 Do I Need
As a minimum, experts do suggest that a daily dose should be at least 2000iu.
As a point of note, to aid and increase testosterone levels, daily servings need to be higher at around 3330iu per day.
Its very difficult to overdose on Vitamin D3.
Toxicity could occur if very large amounts of 50,000iu are taken for a period of time.
The biggest problem with too much Vitamin D3 is an accumulation of calcium in the blood.
Called Hypercalcemia, this can present symptoms including nausea, vomiting, weakness and kidney issues.
If I was to recommend one supplement , I would have to suggest that Testofuel is a top class option.
Packed with proven natural ingredients.
It delivers a potent daily serving of 5000iu of Vitamin D3 alongside other key nutrients that deliver benefits in both energy levels, muscle tone, sex drive and of course the improvement in moods and reduced symptoms of SAD.