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Correlation Between Vitamin D Status and Suicide

Updated: May 5, 2023

A recent article from Orthomolecular Medicine News Service discusses the link between Vitamin D status and rates of suicide.

The article states:

"While suicide has many different causes and risk factors, many recent studies have suggested that low sunshine exposure and vitamin D deficiency may be a major factor in suicide. A recent meta-analysis of 20 studies showed a significant association between latitude and suicide. A higher latitude was associated with a higher prevalence of suicide. [1] In other words, more exposure to sunshine seems to be protective by reducing the risk of suicide.
Many additional studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is associated with a higher risk of suicidal ideation, suicide attempts and completed suicide. [3-8] People who attempted suicide had significantly lower vitamin D levels than healthy controls. [6-8] A genetic predisposition to lower vitamin D levels was also associated with a higher risk of suicide attempts, which suggests that vitamin D may have a preventative potential against suicide attempts. [9] People with a genetic predisposition to lower vitamin D levels might require higher amounts of vitamin D to stay healthy."

The article goes on to say:

"When taking vitamin D, co-factors should not be forgotten. Without them, vitamin D can not be activated correctly and won't work as intended. Also, if the cofactors are not considered, the risk of side effects is increased. Nutrients work together in the body, and the body requires all of them to support its metabolism (synergy). Therefore, in order to protect physical and mental health and make sure that all biochemical or metabolic processes (including in the brain) can be carried out as intended by nature, all nutrients need to be provided in adequate and coordinated doses.
Magnesium and vitamin K2 are among the most important cofactors. Half of all adults in the USA do not consume adequate magnesium, which explains why a deficiency of this mineral is extremely common, affecting many or most of the people in America and Europe. In fact, depending on the population, the rate of magnesium deficiency or insufficiency may range between 30 to 90%. [12,20] Something similar is true for vitamin K2. Up to 97% of older adults suffer from a deficiency or insufficiency of vitamin K2 [21] which is another huge public health challenge.
Interestingly, a deficiency of magnesium is another important cause of depression and treatment with magnesium has shown in RCTs to be effective. In recent studies, it significantly reduced symptoms of depression. [22,23] Thus the widespread undersupply of the cofactor magnesium is likely another major factor in suicidality. And even vitamin K2 is likely effective for depression. In a new RCT, supplementation of K2 significantly alleviated depression in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). [24]
The protocol comprising vitamins D and K2, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids is helpful as a basis for excellent physical and mental health. If everyone got adequate amounts of these nutrients, we would likely see fewer cases of suicides and depression. Nutritional therapy / Orthomolecular medicine saves lives. The doses required are based on individual need. A qualified orthomolecular therapist who can provide medical advice may help finding the appropriate doses and can also help finding out whether individual contraindications exist. If the vitamin D blood level is known, this free vitamin D calculator can be used to help guide dosing:
Long term supplementation of vitamin D (5000-10,000 IU/d) is safe for most adults. [25] This dose will bring the level of a typical adult up to 40-60 ng/ml, which will empower the body's immune system to prevent viral infections and autoimmune disease, reduce the risk of cancer, and lower the risk of depression during the winter months. Also, the metabolism of vitamin D requires magnesium, so it is often helpful to take both together. [11,12] Magnesium (300-500 mg/d in citrate, malate, gluconate, or chloride form) and vitamin K2 (100 mcg/d for each 5000 - 10,000 IU/d D3) should be taken with vitamin D. It is best to find the appropriate dose for the individual, which can be based on lab testing. [11,12] Magnesium should be taken several hours apart from thyroid medications and some antibiotics.
And of course, several other nutrients also relevant for the prevention and treatment of depression. For example, niacin can be helpful for enhancing mental health. [26,27] Omega-3 fatty acids (walnuts, flaxseed meal/oil, and 300-600 mg/d of DHA & EPA) are helpful for health including brain function. [28-30] Eating disorders are a major risk factor in suicide. [31]"

When looking for a supplement, cod liver oil is the best choice for fat-soluble vitamins including A, D, E and K, DHA and EPA. Choose a high-quality product such as Nordic Naturals. Also, try to eat wild-caught fish if possible. Include flax oil and/or walnut oil in your diet (do not heat it, use it in dressings, etc.), as well as a handful of walnuts per day. Also, get enough sunlight on your skin each day, especially in the morning - generally 15 minutes per day at minimum.

Vitamin K2 can be found in fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi so make a batch at home using organic cabbage and other vegetables, and add a tablespoon or more to each meal.

Good sources of magnesium include:

  • leafy greens - spinach & Swiss chard/silverbeet

  • nuts & seeds - pumpkin seeds, walnuts, etc.

  • avocados (also contains healthy fats)

  • wild-caught fish

  • dark chocolate

  • sea vegetables - wakame, chlorella, sprulina, nori, kelp, dulse

  • grass-fed dairy (also contains Vit's D and K2)

  • pink salt

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