It's a critically important hormone, but over 73% of Americans and Europeans are moderately to severely deficient. Even though your body can manufacture it, it's probably not making enough. And if you're feeling depressed, you may need more.
This vital hormone has been mislabeled for years as Vitamin D. And no matter how much enriched milk you're drinking, it's almost impossible to get enough Vitamin D from your diet without supplementation.
Vitamin D is critical in many areas including bone and joint health, cardiovascular health, sports performance, testosterone production, and mood.
A new (5371 participant) study of data from Finland's National Health Survey showed a lower risk of depression for individuals with higher levels of Vitamin D. The study is soon to be published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
"These results support the hypothesis that higher serum 25(OH) D concentrations protect against depression even after adjustment for a large number of socio-demographic, lifestyle and metabolic factors," wrote the researchers from the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki.
The study found that raising serum levels above 50 nmol/l could have avoided 19% of all the depression cases in the study. There were 354 participants diagnosed with depressive disorder (6.5% of study participants).
The link between depression and low Vitamin D levels was strongest in individuals who were younger (under 59), divorced, had an unhealthy lifestyle or diet, or had been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.
The study showed those with the highest vitamin D levels were more likely to be older, married, better educated, and more affluent. They ate better diets, smoked less, supplemented more, and consumed less alcohol. They also had better metabolic health in terms of blood pressure, triglyceride, glucose and cholesterol levels.
Get your levels checked. Chances are if you're not working outside in the lower latitudes you are deficient in Vitamin D. Take a high quality supplement and increase your exposure to the sun to get your levels into the optimal range of 50-70 ng/ml.