Depression affects nearly 15 million Americans every year. The leading cause of disability in the U.S., depression affects twice as many women than men. However, men, children, teens and the elderly may all experience depression. Recently research into the causes of depression has found evidence of a link between depression and Vitamin D. Vitamin D is manufactured in the body when the skin absorbs sunlight.
The link between vitamin D and depression:
Several studies have discussed the link between vitamin D and depression, finding that individuals who experience depression are more likely to be vitamin D deficient. A summary of those studies follows.
• One study found in 1000 older adults vitamin D levels were significantly lower in those who were diagnosed with minor and major depression.
• Supplements of 400 IU to 800 IU of vitamin D were given to individuals experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder over a five day period during winter. Researchers measured a significant increase of positive mood and a decrease of negative symptoms of depression in those individuals.
• Vitamin D levels lower than the recommended amount are associated with higher rates of depression in individuals who are overweight or obese.
Symptoms and Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency
Lifestyle and diet choices can lead to vitamin D deficiency which is linked to many physical illnesses such as:
• Type I & II Diabetes
Vitamin D deficiency is linked to several biological and geographical factors such as:
• Sunscreen use
• Living above 42 degrees latitude
• A lack of absorption in the body due to kidney dysfunction or obesity
• A lack of exposure to the sun due to lifestyle or career choices
• A lack of dietary vitamin D due to lactose intolerance or strict vegetarianism
(read more detailed account of vitamin D at
The Symptoms and Causes of Depression
The seriousness and longevity of depression varies from mild cases lasting less than two weeks to severe cases that can last for years. Depression is marked by profound feelings of:
• Lack of energy
• Low self-worth and guilt
Depression may also be accompanied by
• Changes in appetite and sleep patterns
• Trouble concentrating and decision making
• Backaches, headaches and digestive problems
There are many complicated causes for depression including:
• Biological and hormonal changes
• Chronic illness
• Alcohol and Drug abuse
• Family history of abuse or traumatic childhood experiences
Good sources of vitamin D
When an individual is not able to absorb the full amount of sunlight necessary to manufacture vitamin D there are alternative sources such as:
• Fish: Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel
• Cod liver oil
• Fortified food products: Milk, cereals, juices and cheese
• Vitamin D supplements
Young, S. N (2009) Has the time come for clinical trials on the antidepressant effect of vitamin D? Journal of Psychiatry Neuroscience, 34 (1), 3.
Lansdowne, A. T. G. & Provost, S. C (1998) Vitamin D3 enhances mood in healthy subjects during winter. Psychopharmacology, 135, 319-323.