Seasonal Affective Disorder Food Supplements

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Seasonal Affective Disorder Food Supplements

Vitamin D

There has been a great deal of interest in vitamin D and its role in depression but researchers have struggled to determine whether vitamin D levels decrease because of depression or if low levels of vitamin D give rise to depression. A recent study of twenty scientists stationed in Antarctica for a year, over the long Antarctic winter when there is very little natural light, found that mild vitamin D deficiency was present in just two (10 %) subjects on arrival, but this increased to seven (35 %) subjects during the polar winter at 6 months. The study found that low light exposure during the dark polar winter, lower and increased intact PTH levels were found to be associated with depression during 1 year of Antarctic residence. The researchers concluded that vitamin D supplementation may be necessary. This supports the conclusion from an earlier review of evidence for vitamin D supplementation carried out by Scandinavian researchers. They found there wasn’t enough evidence to conclude that low levels of vitamin D were a cause of seasonal affective disorder but concluded that where vitamin D levels were likely to be low then taking vitamin D supplements would be a strategy worth considering. 


Among the many symptoms of SAD is chronic exhaustion. A recent study in the Netherlands of patients suffering fatigue symptoms found that Hepar magnesium D10 intravenously administered every week had a significant positive effect on patients’ symptoms. The study measured reported fatigue symptoms including general fatigue, physical fatigue, reduced activity, reduced motivation, and mental fatigue. Twenty three patients took part in the study and the researchers found that eighteen (18) of 22 patients (82%) who completed the final questionnaire judged that treatment overall had been effective for their fatigue symptoms. Nine (9) patients (41%) judged a strong improvement and 9 patients (41%) a light improvement as a result of the treatment. Four (4) patients reported no change. On average, patients received treatment 4.5 times. The researchers concluded that there was a clear indication that hepar magnesium D10 intravenously administered could have a positive effect on seasonal affective disorder symptoms of fatigue.


Upping your multivitamins and making sure you have all the minerals your body needs could help with mild symptoms of SAD. A recent double blind placebo controlled trial with 50 men, aged 50-69 years, supplemented for a period of 8 weeks with a multivitamin formulation that contained vitamins (at levels above recommended daily intakes), minerals, antioxidants, and herbal extracts, or a placebo. The trial participants completed a series of mood and stress questionnaires at before the trial started and after the eight week supplementation had finished. The study found that compared with placebo, there was a significant reduction in the overall score on a depression anxiety and stress scale and an improvement in alertness and general daily functioning for the men in the multivitamin group. The study concluded that Supplementation with a multivitamin, mineral and herbal formulation may be useful in improving alertness and reducing negative mood symptoms and may also improve feelings of general day-to-day well-being.

 Omega 3

There is some evidence to suggest that increasing omega 3 intake may reduce depressive symptoms in women. This systematic review that looked at the association between increased omega 3 intake and depressive symptoms. It found evidence from epidemiological studies but there were no trials to support these findings, the researchers concluded that although there was some evidence for effectiveness, it was not strong enough to demonstrate effectiveness and more research is needed in this area.


A review of evidence for the affect of diet on serotonin levels in the brain, suggests that eating plenty of carbohydrates and making sure you take vitamin B6 can have a positive effect on depression. The review looked at links between serotonin in the brain, the serotonin precursor tryptophan and depression found that diet did indeed play a part, researchers concluded the report highlights the clinical significance of tryptophan-rich diet and vitamin B(6) to boost serotonergic neurotransmission in depression. Eating carbohydrates triggers the release of insulin, which in turn influences levels of tryptophan and then serotonin.


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