I had read that low levels of vitamin D were linked to depression. But, I reasoned, I choke down multi-vitamin pills daily, and have for most of my adult life. I gulp skim milk enhanced with vitamin D. I walk my dog, which gets me outside daily. So when I began to question why I felt depressed, particularly in the winter, asking my physician to order a vitamin D level was something I thought I would do just so I could cross off it of my list of possible causes.
At my regular appointment with my much beloved internal medicine doctor, I explained my blahs asked if I might have my blood level of vitamin D checked out. She checked a box on my lab test sheet without much fanfare. She seemed to think my vitamin D level was unlikely to be out of range. The lab work came back. I scored a 17. The “reference range” is 30 to 80 according to the lab report.
The Treatment: Supplements
My doctor immediately put me on vitamin D3 at 800 to 1000 mg. Four and one half months later, my blood was retested and my blood registered a 36, within the reference range. That was a little over a year ago. I continue to take vitamin D3. I have found that my blues lessened to the point where I was able to discontinue the low dose antidepressant I was taking. I began to take a bit higher dose of vitamin D on my own to see if boosting my level closer to 80 will provide an additional protective benefit.
According to Oprah.com, lack of vitamin D3 is common in people who live north of 34 degrees latitude. I live in Michigan at 42 degrees latitude. I wear sunscreen in the summer, spring, and fall due to my Irish/English fair skin. But African Americans are not immune. Having dark skin also puts individuals at higher risk because their skin absorbs less sunshine. Relying on a daily multi-vitamin is a risk factor because the levels of vitamin D in multis are not usually very high. Being obese is also associated with lower levels as vitamin D gets stored in fat, not circulated in the blood.
I have lost 25 pounds since being discovering my low levels of vitamin D. The good news is that higher levels of the vitamin are also associated with weight loss. I have more energy both because I feel better physically and think happier thoughts. Thinner and more chipper? Pass the supplement, please!
Kalish, V. Vitamin D Deficiency Risk Factors . (2010). Oprah.com Accessed September 25, 2013.
Mann, D. Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Depression. (2012). WebMD.