This adds to
growing evidence showing that if you're suffering from depression
one of the best choices you can make is to spend as much time outdoors
in the sun as possible.
is by far the best way to optimize your levels of vitamin D.
This is particularly
useful to know as Daylight Savings Time is now over for most and
will not having access to enough sunshine to make vitamin D until
between vitamin D and depression is not new. In 2006, scientists
evaluated the effects of vitamin D on the mental health of 80 elderly
patients and found those with the lowest levels of vitamin D were
times more prone to be depressed than those who received healthy
In the current
study, researchers found that intake of more than 400 IU of vitamin
D from food sources was associated with a 20 percent lower risk
of depressive symptoms compared with intake of less than 100 IU.
This was a significant benefit from a very small amount of vitamin
D -- as 400 IU is far too low to benefit most people (not to mention
your body is made to get vitamin D primarily from the sun,
not food or supplements, as I'll explain below).
It now appears
as though most adults need about 8,000 IU's of vitamin D a day in
order to get their serum levels above 40 ng/ml, which is the lowest
they should be. Ideally your serum levels should be between 50-70
ng/ml, and up to 100 ng/ml to treat cancer and heart disease.
that vitamin D fights depression via several pathways, not only
directly in your brain but also via inflammation. Vitamin D receptors
have been identified throughout the human body, and that includes
in your brain. Researchers have located metabolic pathways for vitamin
D in the hippocampus and cerebellum of the brain, areas that are
involved in planning, processing of information, and the formation
of new memories.
vitamin D is also imperative for proper functioning of your immune
system to combat inflammation, and other research has discovered
that depressed people tend to have higher levels of inflammation
in their brains.
Why it's Best
to Get Your Vitamin D From the Sun
mentioned above noted that studies have shown only about 30 percent
of Americans' circulating 25(OH)D (vitamin D) is the product of
sunlight exposure. This is an unfortunate byproduct of public health
agencies' misguided advice to stay out of the sun to avoid cancer
(when in fact vitamin
D from sun exposure will prevent cancer). The truth
is, vitamin D from sun exposure is the BEST way to optimize your
vitamin D levels, and a recent
interview with Dr. Stephanie Seneff brought the importance of
getting your vitamin D from sun exposure to a whole new level.
recommended getting your vitamin D from regular sun exposure whenever
possible, and Dr. Seneff's review of how vitamin D specifically
from sun exposure is intricately tied to healthy cholesterol
and sulfur levels, makes this recommendation all the more important.
As a quick
summary, when you expose your skin to sunshine, your skin synthesizes
vitamin D3 sulfate. This form of vitamin D is water soluble,
unlike oral vitamin D3 supplements, which is unsulfated. The water-soluble
form can travel freely in your bloodstream, whereas the unsulfated
form needs LDL (the so-called "bad" cholesterol) as a vehicle of
transport. Her suspicion is that the oral non-sulfated form of vitamin
D may not provide all of the same benefits as the vitamin D created
in your skin from sun exposure, because it cannot be converted
to vitamin D sulfate.
I believe this
is a very compelling reason to really make a concerted effort to
get most of your vitamin D requirements from exposure to sunshine,
or by using
a safe tanning bed (one with electronic ballasts rather than
magnetic ballasts, to avoid unnecessary exposure to EMF fields).
Safe tanning beds also have less of the dangerous UVA than sunlight,
while unsafe ones have more UVA than sunlight. If neither of these
are feasible options, then you should take an oral vitamin D3 supplement.
It is very
difficult to get enough vitamin D from food sources alone, as very
few foods naturally contain vitamin D, and those that do will not
contain enough to optimize your levels. Interestingly, the only
vitamin not found in breast milk is vitamin D.
a giant clue that we were NOT designed to strictly swallow vitamin
D. We were designed to produce it by exposing our skin to natural
sunlight. Lack of sun exposure is really the very root of the problem,
as vitamin D deficiency, which is now at epidemic levels, is a fairly
recent health concern, historically speaking.
Connection That Makes Vitamin D Even More Important
is often found
alongside gastrointestinal inflammations and autoimmune diseases
as well as with cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases,
type 2-diabetes and also cancer, in which chronic low-grade inflammation
is a significant contributing factor. Researchers have suggested
"depression may be a neuropsychiatric manifestation of a chronic
What this all
boils down to is that chronic inflammation in your body disrupts
the normal functioning of many bodily systems, and can wreak havoc
on your brain and possibly cause depressive symptoms.
This is one
more route by which vitamin D is important for your mood and brain
health, as vitamin D will help reduce systemic inflammation. Vitamin
D deficiency is actually more the norm than the exception, and this
can impact far more than your mental health. Optimizing your vitamin
D levels could help you to prevent at least 16 different types of
cancer, along with heart
disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's, the flu and much, much more.
There are many
reasons why they don't work the way most people think they work,
or want them to work.
stress does not cause the same molecular changes that depression
does, but most antidepressants are based on the hypothesis that
stress causes depression. The hypothesis appears to be incorrect,
which means the drugs are virtually worthless.
in neurotransmitters in your brain may not trigger depressive
symptoms as has long been thought. Instead, the biochemical events
that lead to depression appear to start in the development and
functioning of neurons. This means antidepressants focus on the
effect of depression, and completely miss the cause.
half the people who take antidepressants for depression never get
the cause of depression has been oversimplified and drugs designed
to treat it aim at the wrong target, according to new research from
the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The medications
are like arrows shot at the outer rings of a bull's eye instead
of the center.
from the laboratory of long-time depression researcher Eva Redei...
appears to topple two strongly held beliefs about depression. One
is that stressful life events are a major cause of depression. The
other is that an imbalance in neurotransmitters in the brain triggers
are significant because these beliefs were the basis for developing
drugs currently used to treat depression.
the David Lawrence Stein Professor of Psychiatry at Northwestern's
Feinberg School, found powerful molecular evidence that quashes
the long-held dogma that stress is generally a major cause of depression.
Her new research reveals that there is almost no overlap between
stress-related genes and depression-related genes.
reason current antidepressants are often ineffective is that they
aim to boost neurotransmitters based on the popular molecular explanation
of depression, which is that it's the result of decreased levels
of the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine.
wrong, Redei said. In the second part of the study, Redei found
strong indications that depression actually begins
further up in the chain of events in the brain.
The biochemical events that ultimately result in depression
actually start in the development and functioning of neurons.
medications have been focusing on the effect, not the cause,"
she said. "That's why it takes so long for them to work and why
they aren't effective for so many people."
of antidepressants with your brain, liver, digestive system and
other systems are still not fully understood, but we do know that
the side effects are numerous. Besides the standard laundry list
of nausea, dry mouth and loss of libido, more serious side effects
of commonly prescribed antidepressants include:
thoughts and feelings and violent
behavior : The main and primary one that you should
be concerned about is that they could actually INCREASE your risk
of suicide. Your risk for suicide may be twice as high if you
take SSRIs. Seven out of 12 school shootings were also perpetrated
by children who were either on antidepressants or withdrawing
Your risk for type 2 diabetes is two to three times higher if
you take antidepressants, according to one study. All types of
antidepressants, including tricyclic and SSRIs, increases type
2 diabetes risk.
with your immune
system: SSRIs cause serotonin to remain in your nerve
junctions longer, interfering with immune cell signaling and T
A Canadian study of almost 5,000 mothers found that women on SSRIs
were twice as likely to have a stillbirth, and almost twice as
likely to have a premature or low birth weight baby; another study
showed a 40 percent increased risk for birth defects, such as
bones: One study showed women on antidepressants
have a 30 percent higher risk of spinal fracture and a 20 percent
high risk for all other fractures. This is because serotonin is
also involved in the physiology of bone. If you alter serotonin
levels with a drug, it can result in low bone density, boosting
Your risk for stroke may be 45 percent higher if you are on antidepressants,
possibly related to how the drugs affect blood clotting
disease and Sudden cardiac death: Brand new research
reported at a New Orleans meeting of the American College of Cardiology
found that antidepressants
increase your risk of heart disease by causing your artery
walls to thicken. The exact biological mechanism is still unknown.
A literature review of studies from 2000-2007, published
in Expert Opinion on Drug Safety in 2008, found that "Antipsychotics
can increase cardiac risk even at low doses, whereas antidepressants
do it generally at high doses or in the setting of drug combinations."
Another study published in January
2009 in the New England Journal of Medicine also found that
antipsychotic drugs doubled the risk of sudden cardiac death.
Mortality was found to be dose-dependent, so those taking higher
doses were at increased risk of a lethal cardiac event.
Overall death rates have been found to be 32 percent higher in
women on antidepressants.
talking about antipsychotics, which are meant for more severe mental
illness such as schizophrenia, the risks can be even more severe,
depending on the drug. For example, a recent
study published in JAMA discovered that contrary to what we've
previously thought, schizophrenia itself does not alter your brain
What was previously
believed to be evidence of the disease causing brain shrinkage was
actually the effect of the antipsychotic drugs prescribed to schizophrenics…
fact in mind, is it wise to prescribe antipsychotics to anyone who
does not suffer from schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder?
it's sensible or not, the fact is they are being prescribed to a
whole lot of people who are neither bi-polar nor schizophrenic,
and the side effects are just as bad either way.
And as another
example of the dangerous mis-use and off-label prescribing that
is so rampant today, a 2009
article in Medscape Today reveals that 60 percent
of the US military veterans who received antipsychotic medication
in 2007 were not diagnosed with any of the mental illnesses
for which these drugs were approved. So that year, more
than 162,440 military veterans the MAJORITY; 60 percent
were prescribed brain-damaging drugs without a diagnosis
warranting their use!
just one group of people. You also have hundreds of thousands of
civilians being prescribed antipsychotic for off-label uses every
year. Again, drugs that cause BRAIN SHRINKAGE are being given to
people without proper diagnosis of mental illness!
How is this
NOT an outrage?
How could I
possibly keep quiet about something as harmful as this?
If you're given
a prescription for an antipsychotic, and you're not actually
schizophrenic, wouldn't you want to know about this
potentially devastating side effect?
Do I Feel
the Use of these Drugs is Ever Appropriate?
that I am not seeking to diminish the impact of mental illness.
It is massively pervasive and responsible for tens of thousands
of deaths every year and needless suffering in millions of others.
experience leads me to believe that the only appropriate use of
these dangerous medications is as a last ditch effort when the patient
is at a serious risk to themselves or others. The drugs should be
continued until the condition is under control and they are out
of harm's way.
This is a very
similar strategy to the way you would employ by going to the ER
and orthopedic surgeon for a cast when you are in an accident and
fracture a major bone. You don't use that cast the rest of your
life. You use it until your bone is healed.
The REAL tragedy
is that most of the drug companies do NOT view antidepressants this
way. There are enormous marketing efforts to classify normal behavior
as aberrant or diseased, which then requires lifelong therapy with
their drug solution.
Top Tips for Overcoming Depression
your vitamin D is not the the only treatment strategy you can use
to overcome depression. Virtually everyone with depression should
Regular physical activity works better than antidepressant
drugs to improve your mood. In fact, it's one of the most powerful
strategies you can take to prevent and treat depression and boost
sugar and fructose: Sugar (including fructose) also has
a seriously detrimental impact on your brain function. There's
a great book on this subject, The
Sugar Blues, written by William Dufty more than 30 years ago,
that delves into this topic in great detail.
high quality animal-based omega-3 fats: Your brain consists
of about 60 percent fat, DHA specifically, so you need a constant
input of essential animal-based omega-3 fats like krill oil for
your brain to work properly.
one study showed that people with lower blood levels of omega-3s
likely to have symptoms of depression and a more negative
outlook while those with higher blood levels demonstrated the
opposite emotional states.
emotional stress: If you've followed my articles even
a little while, you know that I highly recommend taking an active
role in your emotional health. This includes engaging in stress-relief
modalities that appeal to you and are effective, like exercise,
massage, journaling, guided imagery and more.
is often a serious, even life threatening, condition, and I do not
recommend that you self-treat. Instead, find a health care practitioner
who can guide you through natural treatment options, providing holistic
emotional and physical support so you can heal at the deepest level.
Needed: Get Your Vitamin D Tested at Home
When you join
D*action, you agree to test your vitamin D levels twice a year during
a five-year program, and share your health status to demonstrate
the public health impact of this nutrient. There is a $60 fee each
6 months ($120/year) for your sponsorship of the project, which
includes a complete new test kit to be used at home, and electronic
reports on your ongoing progress.
You will get
a follow up email every six months reminding you "it's time for
your next test and health survey." To join now, please follow this
to the sign up form.
You may want
to consider joining this study not only because you'll be helping
to create awareness about the profound importance of vitamin D for
optimal health, but also because it's an ideal way to test and monitor
your own vitamin D levels, which is highly recommended.
Concluding Thoughts Please Read!
I want to make
something abundantly clear before I leave you. I know firsthand
that depression is devastating. It takes a toll on the healthiest
of families and can destroy lifelong friendships. Few things are
harder in life than watching someone you love lose their sense of
joy, hope, and purpose in life, and wonder if they will ever find
it again. And to not have anything within your power that can change
things for them. You wonder if you will ever have your loved one
to impart the will to live to somebody who no longer possesses it.
No amount of logic, reasoning, or reminders about all they have
to live for will put a smile back on the face of a loved one masked
by the black cloud of depression.
you cannot change your circumstances. You can, however, change your
response to them. I encourage you to be balanced in your life. Don't
ignore your body's warning signs that something needs to change.
Sometimes people are so busy taking care of everybody else that
they lose sight of themselves.
There are times
when a prescription drug may help restore balance to your body.
But it's unclear whether it is the drug providing benefits, or the
unbelievable power of your mind that is convinced it is going to
If you have
been personally affected by depression, my heart goes out to you.
A broken body
can be easier to fix than a broken mind. Depression is real.
It is my hope that you don't feel judged here, but that you are
encouraged and inspired by those who have been there.