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    Archive for the ‘mental health’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: Depression & Vitamin D

    I just got my blood labs done to test for vitamin D deficiency.

    My doctor said that my recent depression symptoms and joint pain could be resulting from that.

    I knew about rickets and vitamin D deficiency in children, but what is this chronic pain/fatigue/depression stuff in adults?

    How does vitamin D deficiency play a role in that?

    — Christine (last name unknown)
    Via the blog

    Thanks to more funding — which means more research — we are finally getting a glimpse at all of Vitamin D’s important functions.

    Many people don’t realize that the term “vitamin” isn’t even 100 years old (that anniversary will occur in 2012).

    Vitamin D, meanwhile, wasn’t discovered until 1922.

    In any case, recent research on vitamin D status, depression, and joint pain appears promising (more studies are needed before any of this can be established as fact, though).

    As far as depression is concerned, this is the reasoning:

    * Blood samples of individuals experiencing clinical depression show lower levels of
    25-hydroxyvitamin D (the active form of vitamin D measured in blood).

    * The brain contains vitamin D receptors, which vitamin D uses in the synthesis of vital peptides and compounds.

    * Recent studies on individuals suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) concluded that those who supplemented 600 International Units of vitamin D reported feeling better more quickly than those who did not supplement. It is worth noting that neither group used special UV lamps for the study.

    This is not to say that vitamin D “cures” depression. The current line of thinking is that low vitamin D status can exacerbate some types of depression, and that correcting this inadequacy may be one factor than can help speed up recovery.

    As for the second half of your question — since Vitamin D is tightly linked with calcium and phosphorus in bone metabolism, it only makes sense that inadequate levels could have an effect on joints.

    The latest studies theorize that deficiencies of vitamin D make it more difficult for the body to repair cartilage and joint damage from arthritis.

    I completely side with scientists and researchers who recommend daily supplementation of 2,000 International Units of vitamin D for the following groups of people:

    * Dark-skinned individuals
    * Adults over the age of 65
    * Anyone living north of Atlanta (from October to April)
    * Anyone with limited sun exposure

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    You Ask, I Answer: B Vitamins & Mental Health

    What do you think about those TrueHope EMPower vitamins that make all kinds of claims about aiding mental health?

    I know B-complexes aid mental functioning, but is all of that really even bioavailable?

    — Anonymous
    Via the blog

    What do I think? I think it is an extremely disturbing — and dangerous — product.

    TrueHope advertises itself as “bringing hope, healing, and health through the research, development, and promotion of high effective nutritional supplements designed to correct mood disorders and other nutrient-depleted conditions.”

    In essence, they claim that mental conditions caused by chemical imbalances (such as bipolar disorder and depression) can be cured by popping what is, in essence, a daily multivitamin.

    This claim is based on “evidence” from very shoddy trials.

    In fact, there are a grand total of three, none of which are randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials (check out this Wikipedia link for “clinical trial 101” reading.)

    Anyhow, their “mood-corrective” formula contains very high (sometimes above the upper tolerable intake) doses of a multitude of vitamins and minerals, plus a handful of other ingredients like grape seed extract and methionine.

    One particularly disturbing included ingredient is vanadium, a trace mineral that people with bipolar disorder have been shown to actually have high levels of.

    I am at a complete loss as to why this is present in EMPower.

    Although it is true that the B vitamins play a role in mental function, that is very different from mood disorders.

    The idea that B vitamins help with bipolar disorder is equivalent to someone claiming that since Vitamin C supports immune system function, megadoses could be effective in curing someone of AIDS.

    If anyone ever attempts to tell you they can correct a mental disorder caused by a chemical imbalance through vitamins and minerals, be sure to run in the opposite direction and stay far, far away.

    By the way, this product has been extremely controversial in its native Canada, where psychiatry and mental health organizations have warned patients of the dangers of relying on a combination of vitamins and minerals to control their mood disorders.

    It has also been alleged that these pills “were supposedly designed to stop pigs from chewing each other’s tails.”

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