Just in case you need another reason to pine for sunny days, new research from Loyola University in Chicago reveals once again that low vitamin D levels could lead to depression, chronic pain, and other symptoms. The study only adds to the growing body of research indicating the wide-reaching effects of the sunshine vitamin.
The study was aimed at exploring the link between depression and pain that is associated with diabetes and vitamin D deficiency. The researchers looked at the effects of vitamin D2 supplementation on depressed women. Their symptoms were analyzed over a period of six months, during which time they took a weekly dose of 50,000 IU of vitamin D2.
Initially, 74 percent complained of numbness in the hands and another 61 percent complained of pain in their legs and feet. But only three months into the study, these symptoms improved.
“Pain is a common and often serious problem for women with type 2 diabetes and depression,” said one of the lead researchers, Tom Doyle of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at Loyola. “While further research is needed, D2 supplementation is a promising treatment for both pain and depression in type 2 diabetes.”
Though the study looked specifically at D2 supplementation, vitamin D2 is actually seen as an inferior product to D3, according to many sources. Further, the vitamin D synthesized from sunlight exposure is the best way to get it.
This isn’t the first study to link vitamin D and depression. One, in 2006, found that elderly people with lower levels of vitamin D were 11 times more likely to be depressed than those with healthy levels of the sunshine vitamin in their body.
Other studies have linked vitamin D to the treatment of anxiety and schizophrenia.
It’s been suggested that vitamin D may be directly related to the regulation of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. Additionally, its anti-inflammatory benefits could play a role in fighting depression.
We know that a sunny day does good things to our mood, but this research indicates it could be more than just the bright light and warmer conditions that are influencing our sunny disposition—the increased vitamin D could be having a significant impact on our nervous system as a whole.