Mounting evidence supports vitamin use to overcome depression. New research from the University of Bristol shows the link between low levels of vitamin D and depression in childhood. The study, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, looked at vitamin D levels in children when they were 9 years old, and found that those with higher levels of vitamin D were 10 percent less likely to show signs of depression when they were tested again at the age of 13 years old.
The link between depression relief and vitamin D has long been established in adults. Vitamin D is available in two different forms – D3 and D2. Research has shown that the connection between vitamin D and depression relief is linked to the D3 form – the same form of vitamin D that is obtained through sunlight.
How can you know if you are getting enough vitamin D?
The next time you visit your doctor, you can ask for a blood test the 25-hydroxy vitamin D test (also called the 25-OH vitamin D test or Calcidiol 25-hydroxycholecalciferol test). This test is the most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in your body. To prepare for the test, do not eat for four hours before your appointment. Normal range for vitamin D is 30.0 to 74.0 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL), with the recommended level around 50 ng/mL. Any levels below 20 ng/mL are considered serious deficiency states. To get an idea of just how widespread vitamin D deficiency is, consider that the late winter average of 25-hydroxy vitamin D in the United States is only about 15-18 ng/mL! If you have depressive symptoms, you are most likely deficient yourself! Get started with a plan to get your levels up:
- Go out into the sun and take your kids with you. Recommended sunlight exposure should be from 10 to 30 minutes per day. This is both a great way of obtaining vitamin D3 and getting quality bonding time with your children. Not to mention, it’s very cost effective!
- If getting out in the sun is not an option for you, consider sitting in front of a light box that supplies 10,000 lux of full-spectrum light for 30 minutes every morning. This is an especially good option for winter months, for night shift workers, and for those who live in the upper latitudes where the angle of the sun’s rays do not permit complete production of Vitamin D.
- Adults can take vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) in regular capsule form at levels between 1000 IU and 5000 IU daily. Be sure to work with your doctor and let him periodically run the 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test to make sure you’re not overdosing but have the optimal levels of Vitamin D. Adjust your D3 intake accordingly. For children, multivitamins are available over-the-counter; these usually contain vitamin D. However, you should NOT give your child extra vitamin D supplements until consulting your family doctor, pediatrician or an integrative physician and has had specific nutritional training.
 Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Volume 53, Issue 1, January 2012.
 Hoogendijk WJ. Et al. Depression is associated with decreased 25-hydroxyvitamin D and increased parathyroid hormone levels in older adults. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008 May;65(5):508-12.