What appears to be clear to me is low levels of pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) increases our propensity to develop addiction, winter syndrome and chronic pain. POMC and the neuropeptides produced from it is in fact how vitamin D3 modulates so many functions in the body.

But it also, as I blogged before, affects the makeup and health of the gut flora. The gut flora is responsible for instance for most of our serotonin production. No serotonin equals depression and contributes to osteoporosis.

What do depressed people want? Not to be depressed. They may only sense they don’t feel “normal”. In comparing themselves to others or what they see as normal in the media they crave to be like those they perceive as better so they may look for ways to feel better. One way they see is by self-medicating.

Perhaps due to reduced production of POMC by both lack of sun exposure and vitamin D3 it has resulted in more of for example suffering from chronic pain and winter syndrome. For example, fibromyalgia are its symptoms of muscle pain, lack of sleep and fatigue due to decreased endorphins and serotonin?

Also, those who don’t have fibromyalgia but still have all the symptoms but pain-winter syndrome. Which when these symptoms are suffered over extended time results in so many of the current diseases of the 21st century. Thus more stress on an individual makes illness including mental illness more likely.

There is a high rate of those who abuse drugs suffering from a mental health issue. 1 I believe whether diagnosed or not most drug abusers are self-medicating their condition. Whether a mental health issue or a physical and/or social issue due to the negative effects of vitamin D3 deficiency.

So, a stretch and you may argue a huge stretch, but this is after all a theory. A theory I believe I have given adequate evidence to prove. Though if you have stuck with me this far your amazing. As clearly my argument is quite convoluted and multi-faceted. I appreciate your persistence.

So, my theory is because some who are lacking beta-endorphins from both inadequate vitamin D3 due to decreased ultraviolet light exposure and/or ingestion but also decreased physical activity are self-medicating to fill this void. That combined with altered gut flora.

Causing reduced or absent serotonin production (https://judsonsomerville.com/serotonin-vitamin-d3-the-gut-microbiota/) they are searching for a solution. A solution to the mental health issues they now are suffering. Diseases like depression, anxiety and schizophrenia. Thus, they self-medicate with illegal drugs or alcohol to try to treat. 3 Often finding temporary fixes.

These temporary fixes with prolonged use soon alter their central nervous system chemistry to the point they are now dependent and addicted. To its use in order to produce the dopamine they crave. See their brain receptor number changes as does their ability to naturally produce dopamine.

Such that even if they went back to boosting the natural sources of beta-endorphins and serotonin, they cannot easily go back to the state they were in before. Also, I believe why recently opioid addiction has increased in suburban and rural areas among white populations. See people who abuse drugs are usually selective in that they are “looking” for a certain effect. Not all “highs” are alike.

As those deficient of the natural sources of POMC which results in beta-endorphins are seeking a substitute. To take the place of Beta-endorphins produced from POMC. This appears recently to be more common corresponding with decreased outdoor activity, sun exposure and sun screen.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings a report from 2013 that contains all the information you would ever want on drug use in the US. Using the information there I came across several interesting trends.

Of course, you can essentially make statistics say whatever you want them to, but in the above survey the rate of drug and alcohol abuse and dependence is lowest in the south and higher in the Midwest, northeast and highest in the west.

Of course, these are broad general areas, but the northwest is known for overcast days and the further from equator the shorter the period of adequate UV-B to produce vitamin D3. A weak argument and broad generalization as to regional cause and effect.  Yes, so many other factors involved.

  1. Regier DA, Farmer ME, Goodwin FK, et al. (1990). Comorbidity of mental disorders with alcohol and other drug abuse. JAMA. 264:2511-18.

  2. Cicero TJ, Ellis MS, Surrat LS, et al. (2014). The changing face of heroin use in the United States a retrospective analysis of the past 50 years. 71(7):821-26.

  3. Mariani JJ, Knantzian EJ, Levin FR. (Mar-Apr, 2014) The self-medication hypothesis and psychostimulant treatment of cocaine dependence: an update. 23(2):189-93.

*The information posted above is for educational purposes only. Always check with your doctor before initiating any changes in your medical treatment. If you do not, then The Two-Minute Health Fact, Dr. Judson Somerville, nor The Optimal Dose is responsible!


Gener Jones · May 3, 2019 at 4:29 pm

I really enjoyed your book and your story. Can you clear up the conflicting information on whether Vitamin D3 supplementation should only be taken with Vitamin K. Do you also have your patient’s take vitamin K? How does this affect calcium levels in the body?

    Dr. Judson · May 6, 2019 at 7:20 pm

    You questions are why I wrote my book as difficult to give short answer. Also how to answer that varies with the person. Totally health versus someone with health issues. However what follows is a general answer.

    My thoughts are that at optimal doses and blood levels of vitamin D3 that taking extra vitamin K2 is not necessary. That said everyone is different. So to be cautious it wouldn’t hurt to take it. I wrote a blog post about it https://judsonsomerville.com/vitamin-d3-deficiency-k2-mk-4-or-mk-7-p-1-3/
    This was the first of three blog posts on it. But essentially vitamin K helps you incorporate calcium into your bones. More importantly it with optimal blood levels of vitamin D3 prevents chronic inflammation that damages your arteries causing atherosclerosis. See it isn’t that calcium is bad. It is only if your body suffers chronicle inflammation does it cause problems.

    However chronic vitamin D3 deficiency leads in my opinion to what I describe as Winter Syndrome- see this post https://judsonsomerville.com/category/dr-judsons-post/
    Which in long term deteriorates you body. Where chronic sleep deprivation, altered metabolism leading to obesity and compromised immune system leads to chronic inflammation. Then considering calcium.

    Also I recommend you do NOT take extra calcium and avoid foods and beverages that contain lots of calcium. Unless you have low blood levels with symptoms of cramping in you fingers or toes. As our foods typically contain more then enough. As most people are at sub optimal blood levels they did not absorb enough to offset loses leading to osteoporosis in many.
    As your calcium blood levels are raised by the active form of vitamin D3 (calcitriol) which your body tightly controls. The blood form of vitamin D3 (calcifediol) can over ride this control but in my opinion only this only becomes an issue when your blood levels of calcifediol reach levels twice the levels I consider optimal.
    That is 300 ng/ml or more. That typically takes oral doses of vitamin D3 of 60,000 IU’s per day or more. Of course talk to your own doctor before making any changes.

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