Vitamin D: A simple remedy for Seasonal affective disorder?

We are constantly seeing the link between vitamin D and SAD all over the internet with new research and opinions constantly coming out. Many people are suggesting that low levels of Vitamin D during certain times of the year (usually the Winter months) lead to depression. We asked Dr Divya Sharma (@doctorbowl) what her views and opinions on Vitamin D and SAD were and what advice she would give to people who think they may be suffering from either low vitamin D levels or SAD.

What is SAD?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that people experience at a particular time of year or during a particular season.

It isn’t uncommon for many people to get down in the dumps in the winter when the days are shorter and you spend more time in darkness. However, if you experience SAD, the change in seasons will have a much greater effect on your mood and energy levels, and lead to symptoms of depression that may have a significant impact on your day-to-day life.

Most people experience SAD during the winter. Less commonly, some people find they experience SAD in reverse – with depressive symptoms occurring in summer.

So, is there a link between Vitamin D and SAD?

Our body creates Vitamin D from direct sunlight on our skin when we're outdoors. Therefore it’s not surprising that in the UK, as many as 1 in 5 of us could be suffering from low levels of Vitamin D. Almost immediately this creates a connection between having low levels of vitamin D and SAD – both occur when our exposure to sunlight is minimal.

However, research hasn’t yet shown clearly whether low vitamin D levels cause depression, or whether low vitamin D levels develop because someone is depressed.

Despite this, Public Health England is now recommending that all of us consider 10mcg vitamin D supplement during the winter months to reduce the risk of deficiency, with high risk groups possibly needing to consider a slightly stronger dose.

No matter whether vitamin D can help to ease SAD symptoms or not, there is no doubt that having low levels of vitamin D can impact your mood which, in addition to SAD, may exacerbate your symptoms.

If you are concerned that you are suffering with either low vitamin D or SAD please seek help from your GP.

As Dr Sharma has stated, vitamin D and mental health are both extremely important for a healthy body and healthy mind. Even though it isn’t yet clear if there is a link between the two, it’s important that if you suspect you are suffering from low vitamin D or SAD that you go tell your GP.

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