Supplementation with Vitamin D Helps the Winter Blues

Until recently, it was commonly believed that a daily dose of sunshine guarantees adequate vitamin D levels. Well, not anymore.

The latest studies are showing that most people, and especially the elderly, are vitamin D deficient. Although our bodies manufacture vitamin D when exposed to sunshine, how much depends on where you live and how much exposure you get. In fact, people who live in areas where the sun rarely shines make no vitamin D at all, and must depend entirely on dietary supplements and vitamin D-fortified foods. During the winter, almost everyone who lives in the northern hemisphere can benefit from vitamin D supplements to boost immunity, and to stave off the blues and other health complaints, including osteoporosis.

Vitamin D deficiency is especially common in the elderly. Researchers have found a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and low mood, depression and worse cognitive performance in older adults. In a recent study, 1618 patients who averaged 73.8 years old were tested for vitamin D deficiency. Those with severe vitamin D deficiency were twice as likely to suffer from depression.1

Another study of a cross-section of 80 older adults, 40 with mild Alzheimer’s disease and 40 healthy adults, found that vitamin D deficiency was associated with low mood and impairment on two of four measures of cognitive performance. 58% of the participants had abnormally low vitamin D levels. After adjusting for age, race, gender, and the season in which vitamin D levels were studied, researchers correlated vitamin D deficiency with an active mood disorder. The deficiency was also related to a worse performance on the cognitive performance test called Short Blessed Test (SBY). There was no difference in performance on the Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE). 2

Why is Vitamin D important?
Vitamin D refers to two biologically inactive precursors – D3, also known as cholecalciferol, and D2, also known as ergocalciferol. Vitamin D3 is produced in the skin on exposure to UVB radiation (290 to 320 nm), and is more bioactive.Vitamin D deficiency may exacerbate osteopenia, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, fractures, some cancers, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases and cardiovascular disease. There is also some evidence that vitamin D may reduce the incidence of several types of cancer and type-1 diabetes, and the onset of dementia.

Whether you are a caregiver, healthy adult, or someone with mild dementia, it’s important that you make sure your intake of vitamin D is adequate.

How much do you need?
The current recommended intakes for vitamin D are 600 IU for adults 19 to 70, and 800 IUs for 71 years and older. But Michael F. Holick, PhD, M.D., the world’s leading expert on vitamin D, recommends taking a minimum of 1,000 IUs of supplemental vitamin D daily for children and adults. 3 Other researchers recommend taking up to 8,000 IUs per day. If you want to know for sure what your blood serum levels of vitamin D are, ask your physician to test you.


  1. Lapid MI, Cha SS, Takahashi PY.Clin Interv Aging. 2013;8:509-14. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S42838. Epub 2013 May 3.
    2. Wilkins CH, Sheline YI, Roe CM, Birge SJ, Morris JC. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with low mood and worse cognitive performance in older adults.Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2006 Dec;14(12):1032-40.
    3. Wiiliam B. Great, Ph.D, and Michael F. Holick, Ph.D, M.D. Benefits and Requirements of Vitamin D for Optimal Health: A Review, Alternative Medicine Review, Volume 10, Number 2, 2005.



Vitamin E Slows Functional Decline in Patients with Alzheimer’s

Vitamin E Slows Functional Decline in Patients with Alzheimer’s.




First we heard that it helps and then not long ago we heard that vitamin E does not help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.1 The newest research suggests that a daily dose of 2000 IU per day of vitamin E might help to slow functional decline for patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s, and that it could help reduce the amount of care these patients require by two hours a day.


Most studies of vitamin E, including this new one, have focused on alpha-tocopherol, a synthetic form of vitamin E. This is extremely significant because in its natural form vitamin E consists of many compounds—including d-alpha tocopherol, high gamma tocopherol, mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols—that have been proven safe and beneficial. If the natural form of vitamin E had been used in this study, the outcome might have been even better. And if it had been used in the countless studies done over the years, many of which were negative, the results might have come out very different.


In the current study, researchers followed 613 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, all of whom were taking an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor (Aricept, Exelon, Razadyne). Of these patients, 155 received 20 mg a day of memantine – a class of drugs used to treat Alzheimer’s – while 152 patients received 2,000 international units a day (IU/day) of vitamin E, 154 received a combination of both and 152 took a placebo. The patients who took the vitamin E had a 19% reduction in their functional decline, compared with the patients who received the placebo. The researchers said that this was equivalent to approximately 6.2 months in time over the 2.3 year follow-up period.


They also noted that memantine and a combination of both memantine and vitamin E demonstrated no clinical benefit for the patients.

The researchers pointed out that functional decline as a result of Alzheimer’s disease is increasingly recognized as having a significant impact on a patient quality of life, as well as putting a strain on social and economic costs. But they said their findings suggest that vitamin E could combat these factors.


What you should know

Vitamin E is naturally found in a variety of foods including eggs, fortified cereals, meat, nuts, poultry, some fruits and vegetables (green, leafy vegetables, avocados, asparagus, kiwi, broccoli, pumpkin, sweet potato, mangos, tomatoes, papayas), wheat germ, sunflower and safflower oils.


Taking a high dosage of alpha-tocopherol alone has been shown to deplete the body of other forms of vitamin E, which are much more powerful antioxidants and have been proven to have unique health properties. And taking a single form of vitamin E, such as synthetic alpha-tocopherol, denies the very fact that nature offers seven different forms of tocopherols and tocotrienols for a reason.


In order to get the full protective benefits of vitamin E, it’s important to make sure you’re taking a supplement that contains a full spectrum of vitamin E compounds—including d-alpha tocopherol, high gamma tocopherol, mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols.


The bottom line is this: Based on the large body of scientific evidence that’s been published over the past several decades, we should all be taking a wholesome full spectrum vitamin E … because full spectrum vitamin E is safe and good for your heart, your brain, your overall health, and as a protectant against cancer and degenerative diseases.



  1. Isaac MG, Quinn R, Tabet N. “Vitamin E for Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment.” Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Jul 16;(3):CD002854. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD002854.pub2.
  2. Dysken Mw, et al. “Effect of vitamin E and memantine on functional decline in Alzheimer disease: the TEAM-AD VA cooperative randomized trial.” JAMA. 2014 Jan 1;311(1):33-44. doi: 10.1001/jama.2013.282834.