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Vitamin D deficiency linked to depression, lung flare ups, early death

Vitamin D, which is freely available if one stand under sun for at least 20 minutes, is seen lacking in many people owing to the modern lifestyle confined to four walls in apartments or offices with sunshine hardly reaching inside.

Latest research findings have shown that Vitamin D deficiency is harmful to both physical health and mental health as it can cause lung flare ups as people age and also can lead to seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Another research even linked it to early deaths in humans.

Led by Alan Stewart of the University of Georgia’ College of Education in the US, researchers glanced through 100 articles to find a link between vitamin D and seasonal depression. “Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression related to changes in season,” Stewart added.

Vitamin D is involved in the synthesis of serotonin and dopamine within the brain, both chemicals linked to depression, according to the researchers. The ideal dose of Vitamin D levels of more than 50 nanomoles per litre is recommended by the US Institute of Medicine.

“A few minutes of sunlight exposure each day should be enough for most people to maintain an adequate vitamin D status,” Michael Kimlin from the Queensland University of Technology in Australia said. The findings appeared in the journal Medical Hypotheses.

In another study, Vitamin D was found to have reduced lung disease flare-ups by 40% in patients than those with a vitamin D deficiency. Flare-ups are when a COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) patient’s usual symptoms (coughing, excess mucus, shortness of breath, tightness in chest) get worse and stay worse, sometimes resulting in hospitalisation.

“Our research has shown how an inexpensive vitamin supplement can significantly reduce the risk of flare-ups for patients who are vitamin D deficient, which could have a major public health benefit,” said lead author Adrian Martineau, professor at Queen Mary University of London.

This is the first clinical trial to investigate the impact of vitamin D supplementation on severity and duration of COPD symptoms. The trial included 240 patients with COPD in and around London.

The third research related to Vitamin D deficiency said it was the ultimate cause for other diseases leading to an early death. Based on examination of genes, the new study has established for the first time a causal relationship between low Vitamin D levels and increased mortality.

“We can see that genes associated with low Vitamin D levels involve an increased mortality rate of 30 percent and, more specifically, a 40 percent higher risk of cancer-related deaths,” said Shoaib Afzal, medical doctor at Herlev Hospital, Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark.

Some of the diseases that Vitamin D deficiency can lead to include daibetes, BP, flu, anaemia, weak bones, brain damage, infertility, depression and cancer.

The study involved 96,000 people from large-scale population studies in Denmark. Vitamin D levels were measured using blood samples from the studies, and specific genetic defects were examined. All participants were followed for mortality from 1976 until 2014.

“Our study shows that low Vitamin D levels do result in higher mortality rates,” Borge Nordestgaard from University of Copenhagen said.

No wonder, ancient Indian vicilization advocated people to start the day with Soorya Namaskara and chanting the Gayathri Mantra which takes around 15 minutes, sufficient for one to get enough sunshine and Vitamin D for the day. however, over exposure leads to skin cancer.

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