Weekly Health Update:
Vitamin D and Depression
By, Robert A. Wascher, MD, FACS
The information in this column is intended for informational purposes only, and does not constitute medical advice or recommendations by the author. Please consult with your physician before making any lifestyle or medication changes, or if you have any other concerns regarding your health.
Welcome to Weekly Health Update
“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”
VITAMIN D AND DEPRESSION
Regular readers of this column already know that Vitamin D, which functions more as a hormone than a vitamin, has been linked to multiple potential health benefits. These include a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, improved strength and balance in older men and women, and a decreased risk of certain cancers. In a newly published clinical research study, which appears in the current issue of the International Archives of Internal Medicine, increased blood levels of this hormone-like vitamin also appear to be associated with a significantly decreased level of risk for depression.
This large public health study assessed 7,970 research volunteers between the ages of 15 and 39 years in the United States. All of these young study volunteers had blood Vitamin D levels measured, and this group of nearly 8,000 adolescents and young adults was also assessed for depression using a validated mental health survey. The findings of this large clinical study were impressive: After adjusting for other factors known to be linked with depression, this very large study found that people who were deficient in Vitamin D (blood levels less than or equal to 50 nmol/L) were 85 percent more likely to be clinically depressed when compared to people with normal Vitamin D blood levels (greater than or equal to 75 nmol/L).
Although this clinical research study identified a strong and significant association between the risk of depression and levels of Vitamin D in the blood, the findings of this study cannot prove that low levels of Vitamin D in the blood directly cause depression. There could be other explanations for this finding, including decreased exposure to sunlight which is, itself, linked to depression (the majority of the Vitamin D in our bodies is manufactured in our skin, following exposure to sunlight). However, recent research has also demonstrated that cellular receptors for Vitamin D are present within the brain, including those areas of the brain that regulate mood, and which are also thought to be the areas of the brain responsible for mood disorders like depression. Therefore, it is certainly possible that Vitamin D, like multiple other hormones and neurotransmitters, may also play a direct role in the modulation of our moods.
As always, I strongly recommend that readers consult with their physician prior to taking supplements of Vitamin D, as serious health side effects can occur after taking large doses of this essential nutrient, particularly in patients with kidney or parathyroid gland disorders.
For a complete discussion of the important role of Vitamin D in cancer prevention, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,now!
For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my new book,“ A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” fromAmazon,Barnes & Noble,Books-A-Million,Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!
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I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people, from around the world, who visit this premier global health information website every month. (As of 9/16/2010, more than 1,000,000 health-conscious people have logged onto Weekly Health Update so far this year!) As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.
Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physicianbeforemaking any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity
Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author
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Copyright 2007 - 2010
Robert A. Wascher, MD, FACS
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Dr. Wascher's Archives:
12-5-2010: Vitamin D and Depression
11-14-2020: Low Dose Aspirin Reduces Colorectal Cancer Risk
11-7-2010: Coffee, Tea, Caffeine and Brain Cancer Risk
10-14-2010: Gum Disease (Gingivitis) and Breast Cancer Risk
10-3-2010: Mammograms Between 40 and 49 Years of Age
9-19-2010: Fruits and Vegetables Improve Memory
9-12-2010: Low-Carb Diet and Risk of Death
8-1-2010: Physician Error
7-25-2010: Obesity and Cancer Risk
6-27-2010: Soy, Curcumin & Prostate Cancer Risk
5-30-2010: Medical Research Studies & “Spin”
5-9-2010: Soy Foods & Stomach Cancer Risk
4-18-2010: Coffee Improves HDL Cholesterol Levels
3-28-2010: Aspirin & Breast Cancer Survival
3-21-2010: Obesity, Alcohol & Liver Disease
3-14-2010: Nuts, Diet & Obesity
2-28-2010: Soy Isoflavones & Recurrent Prostate Cancer
2-14-2010: Pancreatic Cancer Risk, Sodas & Juice
1-31-2010: Concord Grape Juice Improves Memory
1-24-2010: Mozart, Music, Babies & Health
1-17-2010: Breast Cancer, Physical Therapy & Lymphedema
1-3-2010: Ginkgo Biloba, Memory & Cognitive Health
12-20-2009: CT Scans & Cancer Risk
11-29-2009: Exercise & Prostate Cancer Risk
11-22-2009: Genistein (Soy Isoflavone) & Prostate Cancer
11-15-2009: Breast Cancer Treatment & Chronic Pain
1-8-2009: Vitamin D & Breast Cancer Risk
11-1-2009: Exercise & Prostate Cancer Risk
10-25-2009: HPV Virus & Risk of Breast Cancer
10-11-2009: Vitamin D & Falls in the Elderly
10-4-2009: Surgery, NSQIP, Complications & Death
9-27-2009 Stress, Heart Disease, Exercise & Death
9-20-2009: Vitamin D & Colorectal Cancer Survival
9-13-2009: H1N1 Swine Flu Update
9-7-2009: Green Tea, Aging & Lifespan
8-30-2009: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Diet & Fiber
8-23-2009: Update on Prostate Cancer and Cryotherapy
8-2-2009: Honesty, Dishonesty & Brain Function
7-26-2009: Coronary Artery CT Scans & Cancer Risk
7-12-2009: Breast Cancer & Metformin (Glucophage)
7-5-2009: Prostate Cancer & Green Tea
6-21-2009: Red Yeast Rice, Statins & Cholesterol
6-7-2009: Diet, Soy & Breast Cancer Risk
5-31-2009: Diet and Prostate Cancer Risk
5-24-2009: Diabetes, Glucose Control & Death
5-10-2009: Hemorrhoids & Surgery
4-26-2009: Are We Really Losing the War on Cancer?
4-19-2009: Exercise in Middle Age & Risk of Death
4-12-2009: Can Chronic Stress Harm Your Heart?
3-15-2009: Depression, Stress, Anger & Heart Disease
10-26-2008: Smoking & Quality of Life
10-19-2008: Agent Orange & Prostate Cancer
10-12-2008: Pomegranate Juice & Prostate Cancer
9-21-2008: Does Tylenol® (Acetaminophen) Cause Asthma?
4-27-2008: Stents vs. Bypass Surgery for Coronary Artery Disease; The “DASH” Hypertension Diet & Cardiovascular Disease Prevention; Testosterone Therapy for Women with Decreased Sexual Desire & Function
4-6-2008: Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Pap Smear Results & Cervical Cancer; Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Infection & Oral Cancer; Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) & the Risk of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD)
12-16-2007: Honey vs. Dextromethorphan vs. No Treatment for Kids with Night-Time Cough, Acupuncture & Hot Flashes in Women with Breast Cancer, Physical Activity & the Risk of Death, Mediterranean Diet & Mortality