Depressed or Vitamin D Deficient?

Coming from sunny southern California and moving to Pennsylvania for college was like stepping into a parallel universe. It was nothing like the pamphlets I had seen where it was beautifully sunny in the fall time and perfectly clean and crisp in the snowy winters. For the first time I knew what it was like to feel fooled at what I was getting. I finally understood what people felt when they expected Los Angeles to be a red carpet runway full of Hollywood movie star sightings. Instead of the glamour all they got rush hour traffic and scammed into a buying a picture with a man in a cheap looking character costume.

img_2541   With time, I have learned to love and appreciate the beauty that Pennsylvania has to offer, for example the beautifully crisp mornings spent alongside a lake. However, the one thing I will never love or appreciate will be the lack of sunny days. Throughout the years here at Penn State, I have met friends who so happen to be from sunny states like California as well, and although this is something I have not experience personally, it is something that I know many of them have. That being depression. Now, what their diagnosed depression had in common was that their Dr.’s all suggested theirs was due to their lack of vitamin D intake. According to Holick and Chen, vitamin D deficiency can be combatted with pills that are much like your everyday vitamin. Vitamin D is not something that is easily attained through eating your daily dose of fruits and vegetables, it is something that you get from a healthy dose of sunlight. Not too much and not too little. They were according to their Dr.’s having too little exposure to the sun. What I find interesting is that most people that I have met who suffer from this are people who come from naturally sunny areas where a gray day is strange. During winters in Pennsylvania what is strange is a sunny day. The days might be bright and light may blindly reflect off the snow covered ground but to us it is not the same as if the suns bright rays were lighting up our face.


In the winter we tend to want to stay indoors as much as possible and knowingly blame the sadness we feel to the fact that we can no longer go outside and enjoy the weather like we once did in the hot summer days that seem so long gone. However, it is essential to our well being to go out, even if it seems like the days are gray, the suns rays are still shining through the clouds and providing us with vitamin d.

This sadness we feel is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). In the article by Dale Archer M.D, he states that a persons amount of sunlight intake definitely affects their mood. The more sun the more pep in their step a person will have. This type of depression, known as SAD can be combatted by soaking in direct natural sunlight, or through a prescribed vitamin D pill. Vitamin D is actually very essential not only to combat depression like SAD but it also allows ones body to absorb calcium. Everything in our body has a function, even if we do not think about it. As the winter days approach lets remember that something that seems as minuscule as taking in a few minutes of sunlight a day can actually affect our abilities to function tremendously.img_2458

2 thoughts on “Depressed or Vitamin D Deficient?

  1. Meredith Herndon

    I’ve always lived in PA so having the 4 seasons is not new to me, but I have a friend from GA who said that moving up North affected his mood in multiple ways but I never understood why. You blog post really cleared that up for me and was interesting in that there’s actually a name for seasonal depression, something even I have felt but never understood. It’s too bad you can’t take Vitamin D supplements the way you can with other vitamins, but it’s definitely cool to see that it all kind of has to do with the weather.

  2. Devon Buono

    Could it be possible that the depression alone is due to stress? Like stress from school usually makes me pretty depressed. And you are not in school during the summer, so could it be possible that they are correlated, but not causal?

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