Vitamin D Deficiency and Depression

As it is well known, vitamin D is necessary for healthy bones, but it might be also helpful in fighting depression and some other mood disorders. Some researchers believe that decreased exposure to sun, resulting in vitamin D deficiency, is in direct connection with depression. Numerous studies also revealed that there is a connection between seasonal affective disorder, severe depression, premenstrual syndrome and vitamin D.

Research done on vitamin D levels have shown that people who suffered from depression have more then 15% less vitamin D present in their bodies than the control groups who were not clinically depressed. It was not proven that vitamin D could be used as a remedy for depression (e.g. taking vitamin D will not make you feel better) but it could be used as a prevention from developing a depression.


Photo by Luis Sarabia

It would seem that the relation of depression and vitamin D deficiency is a vicious circle. A depressed person with little or no contact with the outer world will likely not be exposed to sunlight that would help him or her to synthesize vitamin D in a natural way. That deficiency would in turn keep the person depressed.

It is considered that vitamin D stimulates the serotonin level of the brain, which could affect the depressive symptoms. Seasonal affective disorder – SAD – might also be influenced by vitamin D deficiency. According to some conducted studies, vitamin D has a greater effect than light therapy in people with this disorder. Light therapy boxes do not release ultraviolet rays, which are needed for the body to produce vitamin D. The seasonal affective disorder is most frequent during the winter time, when the rays of the sun are very weak.

According to some other studies, people with heart diseases and decreased vitamin D level are more inclined to depressions than people with normal levels. Additionally, older people could be more predisposed to various mood disorders because of vitamin D deficiency. Researches revealed that mothers who failed to get a lot of sun during pregnancy, have children with higher chances to develop schizophrenia at some point in their life, as compared to mothers who spend a great deal of time outdoors.

Although the connection between sunlight, vitamin D and depressions is not entirely obvious, people who are not getting enough vitamin D might not have deficiency symptoms at all, but will have instead  depression symptoms. It is important to talk to your doctor before taking supplements as you could get excessive vitamin D.

References:

http://www.webmd.com/depression/news/20120110/low-levels-vitamin-d-may-be-linked-depression
http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/health-conditions/mental-health-and-learning-disorders/depression/

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