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Vitamin D & Brain Health: How D3 Affects Mood - Thomas DeLauer
I talk about vitamin D a lot, but I really want to start making the connection to brain health, because a lot of us are battling with anxiety, we're battling with depression, we're battling with mood disorders and we don't always want to talk about it. But what if I told you that part of the solution very well could be our relationship with vitamin D, what we're getting from the sun. And not necessarily just the vitamin D that we're getting from the sun, but the vitamin D that we're getting from our food and potentially from our supplementation. I'm going to dive into the details of how that connection actually takes place.
According to the National Library of Medicine we found that about 40-50% of Americans are already deficient in vitamin D. When you start thinking that vitamin D might be linked with mood disorders, well, then it's pretty evident that we need to be paying attention to it. Now the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that the link between vitamin D and our mood lies within the neurotransmitter serotonin. Now that serotonin neurotransmitter is what's responsible for us having a sense of well being. For us feeling calm, cool, and collected. Quite the opposite of feeling anxious or potentially depressed. Well, I'm going to get into the intricate details of it in just a minute, so you understand how serotonin works and so that you can make the connection. But what we have to remember first and foremost, is that a lot of these ties are still widely unknown. This is a pretty new topic, pretty new investigations when it comes down to vitamin D and the brain.
Let's take a look at serotonin really quick. Okay? It's the job of serotonin, again, to help us feel good. The process of actually creating serotonin in the body is pretty interesting. You see, it comes down to something called trip to fan. What trip to fan is, is an amino acid. Those amino acids are usually derive from proteins that we consume. When we consume those proteins we generally require carbohydrates to allow the trip to fan to enter into the brain. Well, what researchers are now finding is that vitamin D could be a very critical component in that conversion process. Essentially, eat protein, get the trip to fan, have it go into the brain with the help of carbohydrates and then vitamin D comes in and assists in the metabolism and the creation of serotonin. Right at the very root of creating this neurotransmitter that helps us feel good.
Now researchers are continuing to back up the fact that everything seems to be lying in what are called monoamines. Monoamines are a group of neurotransmitters including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. All three neurotransmitters that truly regulate how the brain operates when it comes to feeling good. Again, if we see that link between vitamin D and the creation of these monoamines you can get the hint that well, it might be pretty critical to overall feeling well.
There's one study in particular that I really want to reference because it backs a lot of this up and it was done by Oregon State University. What it looked at was a 185 female participants that were all college students, okay, between the ages of 18 and 25. What they did is they initially measured their vitamin D levels. They found naturally that a lot of them were already deficient in vitamin D. But what they did is they monitored these women for an extended period of time.
They monitored them over the winter time, over the spring, over the summer, and they watched their vitamin D levels fluctuate. Of course, naturally, in the winter time vitamin D levels were significantly lower.
1) Can Vitamin D Improve Mood? | Healthy Eating | SF Gate. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/can-vitamin-d-improve-mood-4662.html
2) Department of Health | Introduction to the monoamine system. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-toc~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-2~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-2-3~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-2-3-intr
3) Depression Is Associated With Decreased 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and Increased Parathyroid Hormone Levels in Older Adults | Depressive Disorders | JAMA Psychiatry | The JAMA Network. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/482702
4) Shipowick, C. D., Moore, C. B., Corbett, C., & Bindler, R. (n.d.). Vitamin D and depressive symptoms in women during the winter: A pilot study. Retrieved from www.appliednursingresearch.org/article/S0897-1897%2807%2900106-1/abstract