Vitamin D3 enhances mood in healthy subjects during winter
Mood changes synchronised to the seasons exist on a continuum between individuals, with anxiety and depression increasing during the winter months. An extreme form of seasonality is manifested as the clinical syndrome of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) with carbohydrate craving, hypersomnia, lethargy, and changes in circadian rhythms also evident. It has been suggested that seasonality and the symptoms of SAD may be due to changing levels of vitamin D3, the hormone of sunlight, leading to changes in brain serotonin. Forty-four healthy subjects were given 400 IU, 800 IU, or no vitamin D3 for 5 days during late winter in a random double-blind study. Results on a self-report measure showed that vitamin D3 significantly enhanced positive affect and there was some evidence of a reduction in negative affect. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for seasonality, SAD, serotonin, food preference, sleep, and circadian rhythms.