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Beat seasonal blues with vitamin D

'Tis the season for festivity, food, family and, unfortunately for many of us, depression. Crazy-busy schedules, pinched pocketbooks and family drama can churn up enough stress and frustration to bum almost anyone out around the holidays.

But before you boycott gift-giving or malign mistletoe, remember that regardless of how much craziness swirls around you, nutrients play a huge role in mood and mental well-being. And the nutrient so few of us get enough of in the wintertime—if ever—is vitamin D, which comes from sunlight.

A new study published in the International Archives of Medicine found that people deficient in vitamin D are much more likely to suffer from depression than those who have adequate levels. Although researchers, who examined data from nearly 8,000 Americans aged 15 to 39, did not determine whether vitamin D caused depression or depression caused deficiency, they’re certain the two are related. Past studies have also linked depression with the sun-sourced vitamin.

So, given winter’s innumerable short, dark, cold days--on top of all the seasonal stress--it’s no wonder so few of us make it to May without experiencing some degree of depression.

But while so many stress-inducers/depression-producers are beyond our control—like the ability to trade away the annoying relatives—we can load up on D. The current dietary reference intake is 200 IU per day—but that’s only for a few more hours. Come tomorrow, the Institute of Medicine will introduce its new DRI, updated to reflect the nutrient’s myriad health benefits and wide safety margin. Many experts recommend 2,000 IU per day, although the IOM is predicted to set its new number around 800 to 1,000 IU.

Check NewHope360 Tuesday for coverage of the IOM announcement

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