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Vitamin D Deficiency And Depression

The Link Between A Vitamin D Deficiency And Anxiety

Vitamin D deficiency and depression | What you NEED to know (symptoms, testing and dose)

Multiple studies illuminate the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and anxiety. The Journal of Diabetes research conducted a study to see if supplements could improve mental health and type 2 diabetes. Forty-six women participated in the study for six months and completed a survey about their mental health. The study found that taking vitamin D supplements significantly decreased anxiety levels in women suffering from type 2 diabetes.

Another study found that those suffering from anxiety had lower levels of calcidiol. Broken down vitamin D produces the byproduct, calcidiol. The study notes that low levels of vitamin D are thought to increase the chances of depression, diabetes, and cancer. The study also notes that literature from thousands of years ago hints at the link between vitamin D deficiency and anxiety. An ancient text writes about poor mental health after lack of sun exposure.

Does Vitamin D Help With Depression

Evidence suggests that vitamin D can help with depression, despite how some scientists feel. To clarify, most scientists refute the link between this vitamin and depression because there isnt enough research on it. However, some studies show promising results.

For example, one study found that some of the brain receptors are associated with vitamin D and depression. It went on to say that vitamin D may act on cells and stimulate cell growth. In theory, a vitamin D deficiency can limit this behavior and stunt cell growth. This might stunt brain function as a whole.

The Cambridge University Press lists a journal that aimed to find a link between vitamin D and depression. The meta-analysis and review found that people with depression seemed to have low levels of vitamin D. They concluded that depression is more likely to surface in people with vitamin D deficiencies than people with normal or high levels.

So, does vitamin D help with depression? Evidence shows that people struggling with depression have low levels of vitamin D. It might help, although there is limited research. Either way, its an essential nutrient for the following reasons:

  • Helps with bone health
  • It can prevent multiple sclerosis
  • Helps the body regular blood sugar levels

Its evident that vitamin D is crucial to overall health. Bad physical health can lead to bad mental health. Its important to get enough vitamin D to promote a healthy body and mind.

Demographic And Clinical Data Of The Study Participants

The means of age of both groups of MDD and schizophrenia patients were 28 years ± 7 and 31 years ± 8, respectively and that of controls to be 28 years ± 2, with almost half of patients to be males and half females in all three groups. No statistically significant differences were found between all 3 groups regarding age or gender.

There was no statistically significant difference between patients groups according to age of onset or pharmacotherapy treatment modality. However, the schizophrenia group had longer duration of illness and higher number of episodes compared to the MDD group .

Table 1 Clinical characteristics among patients groups

Diagnostic characteristics of vitamin D level in differentiating between groups

Vitamin D 14 ng/ml had excellent specificity, but low in other diagnostic characteristics in differentiating patients with MDD group from the control group.

Vitamin D 14 ng/ml has excellent specificity, but low in other diagnostic characteristics in differentiating patients with schizophrenia group from control group.

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How Can You Get Enough Vitamin D In The Winter

During winter, many people spend more time indoors, and it gets dark earlier in the day.

Additionally, people are more bundled up when theyre outside, so less skin is exposed to the sunlight. This can lead to inadequate vitamin D levels through the winter for some people.

This may also be one factor that plays into seasonal affective disorder , a type of depression that typically occurs only during the winter months .

However, there are several ways to get more vitamin D during the winter:

  • Supplements. Taking a vitamin D supplement throughout the winter can help maintain your blood vitamin D levels even if you get less sun exposure.
  • Vitamin D foods. You can also choose more vitamin D-rich foods during the winter, such as vitamin-D fortified dairy or plant-based milk, fish like trout or salmon, or UV-exposed mushrooms (

Vitamin D Status In The Depression Group Vs Schizophrenia Group

TIL that Vitamin D deficiency is linked with many health disorders ...

The current study showed that patients with schizophrenia had a lower level of vitamin D level when compared with healthy controls yet, a higher level when compared to patients with MDD. This result is worth noting given that patients with schizophrenia had longer duration of illness and higher number of episodes compared to the MDD group.

Studies comparing vitamin D level between patients with MDD and schizophrenia are scarce. Contrary to our results, a study has concluded that serum vitamin D levels were lower in patients with schizophrenia compared to patients with MDD and to healthy controls . In another study, no differences were found in vitamin D level between schizophrenia and non-psychotic depression . This finding warrants further investigation and needs to be replicated on a wider scale to be confirmed.

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Why Is Vitamin D So Important

Vitamin D is one of many vitamins your body needs to stay healthy. It plays a crucial role in maintaining the balance of calcium in your blood and bones and in building and maintaining bones.

More specifically, you need vitamin D so your body can use calcium and phosphorus to build bones and support healthy tissues.

With chronic and/or severe vitamin D deficiency, a decline in calcium and phosphorus absorption by your intestines leads to hypocalcemia . This leads to secondary hyperparathyroidism .

Both hypocalcemia and hyperparathyroidism, if severe, can cause symptoms, including muscle weakness and cramps, fatigue and depression.

To try to balance calcium levels in your blood , your body takes calcium from your bones, which leads to accelerated bone demineralization .

This can further result in osteomalacia in adults and rickets in children.

Osteomalacia and osteoporosis put you at an increased risk for bone fractures. Rickets is the same as osteomalacia, but it only affects children. Since a childs bones are still growing, demineralization causes bowed or bent bones.

Depressed Some Relief May Be As Close As Your Nearest Vitamin D Supplement

Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is a steroid hormone precursor. It was originally thought to play a role only in the mineralization of bones and teeth by maintaining the correct phosphorous/calcium ratio. But over time research has linked low vitamin D levels with obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, osteoporosis, and cancer.

According to the CDC, in 2006 a whopping one-fourth of the population was deficient in vitamin D. Eight percent were “at risk” for vitamin D deficiency illnesses and one percent had levels that were considered imminently harmful. According to Natural News, vitamin D is “perhaps the single most underrated nutrient in the world of nutrition.”

Whats causing these low vitamin D levels? One theory is that we are not outside as much as prior generations, and when we are, we slather on the sunscreen that prohibits UVB from penetrating the skin. These same UVB rays naturally produce vitamin D.

The time of day, the season, the altitude, the latitude, and other factors come into play to determine how much UVB reaches the skin. Vitamin D levels can become depleted without enough sunshine, and this is especially true during the winter months when we stay inside more and the sun is not as intense.

Here are a few important things to note:

If you have dark skin, you’ll need about 25 times more exposure time as a light-skinned individual to produce the same amount of vitamin D.

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Vitamin D Deficiency And Depression

A vitamin D deficiency may contribute to depression. For example, one review of 13 studies with over 31,000 participants found that those with a vitamin D deficiency had an increased risk for depression, when compared to those with higher levels of Vitamin D.

“Low levels of vitamin D are associated with both major and minor depression, as well as mood disorders and faster cognitive decline,” says Robin Foroutan, MS, RDN, HHC, integrative medicine dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Low Vitamin D levels may impair cognitive function because there are vitamin D receptors in areas of the brain that are responsible for mood and behavior, including the development of depression.

The average adult needs around 600 to 800 international units of vitamin D a day. For reference, a serving of salmon contains roughly 400 IU. However, few foods naturally have enough Vitamin D to get your daily dose.

In fact, the most common way to attain it is through sunlight, as vitamin D is synthesized by the skin in response to ultraviolet light. You should try to get around 15 minutes of sunlight between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., three times a week, in order to get enough vitamin D.

What Is Vitamin D

Vitamin D Deficiency or Depression?

Also known as calciferol, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. This means that the body stores it in the liver and in fatty tissue.

While some foods, such as salmon, mushrooms, and egg yolks, naturally have vitamin D, other foods are fortified with the substance.

Vitamin D can also be taken as a dietary supplement and the body synthesizes the vitamin when the skin is exposed to the suns ultraviolet rays.

Vitamin D has several benefits, as it can help to prevent conditions such as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults, and, along with calcium, it can prevent the elderly from developing osteoporosis.

It has also been linked to lower inflammation and the bodys regulation of immune function and glucose metabolism.

Some studies, with mixed results, have found that vitamin D supplementation can reduce the risk of individuals developing various forms of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Similarly, the link between vitamin D and depression also remains unclear.

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Vitamin D And Depressive Symptoms

Vitamin D low levels have been previously associated with the risk of depressive symptoms and depression worldwide . However, few publications have been discussing this relationship during the COVID-19 pandemic . Mehta et al. discussed that vitamin D can be hypothesized to trigger as well as sustain the psychiatric symptoms and can also be expected to alleviate the psychiatric manifestations in COVID-19. An observational study in Rome showed that low 25-hydroxyvitamin D serum levels were significantly associated with higher psychological distress in patients with mood disorders during the COVID-19 outbreak .

What Causes Vitamin D Deficiency

In general, the two main causes of vitamin D deficiency are:

  • Not getting enough vitamin D in your diet and/or through sunlight.
  • Your body isnt properly absorbing or using vitamin D.

There are several specific causes of vitamin D deficiency, including:

  • Certain medical conditions.
  • Weight loss-surgeries.
  • Certain medications.

Several different biological and environmental factors can also put you at a greater risk of developing vitamin D deficiency, such as older age and the amount of melanin in your skin.

Medical conditions that can cause vitamin D deficiency

Medical conditions that can cause vitamin D deficiency include:

  • Cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s diseaseand celiac disease: These conditions can prevent your intestines from adequately absorbing enough vitamin D through supplements, especially if the condition is untreated.
  • Obesity: A body mass index greater than 30 is associated with lower vitamin D levels. Fat cells keep vitamin D isolated so that its not released. Obesity often requires taking larger doses of vitamin D supplements to reach and maintain normal levels.
  • Kidney disease and liver disease: These conditions reduce the amount of certain enzymes your body needs to change vitamin D to a form it can use. A lack of either of these enzymes leads to an inadequate level of active vitamin D in your body.

Weight-loss surgeries and vitamin D deficiency

Medications that can cause vitamin D deficiency

Certain medications can lower vitamin D levels, including:

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Evidence For The Association Between Vitamin D And Depression

Several cross-sectional studies, few cohort studies, and one case-control study have examined the association. All the studies found that depressed subjects had lower levels of vitamin D compared to controls, and those with the lowest vitamin D levels had the greatest risk of depression . These values, though statistically significant, do not establish clinical relevance beyond doubt.

While both hospital-based and community-based trials show a link between low vitamin D levels and presence and severity of depressive symptoms, it is important to examine if these associations hold good after controlling for relevant demographic, lifestyle, and geographical factors. Encouragingly, community-based trials that controlled for age, gender, smoking, and body mass index have also found an inverse correlation between serum levels of 25D and levels of depression.

These findings are partly tempered by the conclusions from two negative studies among the elderly one a large Chinese epidemiologic study of men and women aged 5070 years that did not show any association between vitamin D and depression and the other, a cohort study from Hong Kong , where no relationship was observed between baseline vitamin D level and depression status at four-year follow-up. Notably, both these studies showed that the odds ratios turned insignificant after adjusting for several key confounders.

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Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with an increased risk of mental health problems as well as individual responses to stress . There are several risk factors related to vitamin D deficiency such as obesity, dark skin, living in countries with low sunlight incidence, gastrointestinal malabsorption, renal insufficiency, liver disease, and the use of covered clothing and sunscreen . Furthermore, reduced exposure to sunlight, thereby reducing the biosynthesis of vitamin D in the skin, is a strong factor in the pathophysiology of vitamin D deficiency and studies have been demonstrated that sun exposure can enhance vitamin D synthesis .

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What This Means For Depression & Vitamin D

Contrary to conventional wisdom, it appears that the association between depression and vitamin D is a small, tenuous one at best. The most recent studies seem to suggest that the believed connection between vitamin D deficiency and depressive mood either doesnt exist, or is simply a small correlation.

Regardless, vitamin D is important to your overall health. There are other studies demonstrating its impact on reducing blood pressure, hypertension, risk of MS, and even Type 1 diabetes . It also appears important for bone health in general, and long-term deficiency in vitamin D has been linked to osteoporosis .

You can get a lot of your vitamin D by just spending a little time each day outdoors in most places. However, in colder seasons or climates, that may not always be possible. Vitamin D supplements can be obtained over-the-counter and are a safe way to increase your vitamin D serum levels.

However, according to the latest research, taking vitamin D supplements alone arent likely to change your mood. If you expect it to work like an antidepressant drug, you may be in for a surprise.

Last medically reviewed on July 9, 2016

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Vitamin D Status In The Patient Groups And Healthy Controls

During the assessment of the current sample, we found vitamin D serum level to be highly significantly lower in patients with MDD compared to controls, where 75% of the MDD patients had vitamin D deficiency/severe deficiency.

In agreement with our results, two studies found that more than half of their samples of depressed patients had low vitamin D levels . Other studies had equivocal results . For example, one study found no difference in serum vitamin D level between depression and healthy controls , which could be attributed to different study design while we used standardized tool for psychiatric diagnoses, they used register-based diagnoses.

The pathology underlying vitamin D association with depression is a multifactorial one. One psychological proposition suggests that depression is associated with behavioral withdrawal, which would typically reduce outdoor activities and therefore sun exposure potentially leading to vitamin D deficiency . Alternatively, the somatic effects of vitamin D deficiency might contribute to a general lowering of mood, which could be viewed as the psychologization of somatic symptoms .

Additionally, the identification of vitamin D receptors on neurons and glia in various regions of the brain , further support speculations about vitamin Ds relationships with neurotransmitters and psychopathological processes underlying depression .

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Dealing With Depressive Symptoms

The meta-analysis, which was published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, looked at results from 41 studies from around the world investigating the efficacy of vitamin D in alleviating depressive symptoms in adults via randomised placebo-controlled trials. It was carried out in international collaboration between Finnish, Australian, and US researchers.

The results showed vitamin D supplementation to be more effective than a placebo in counteracting depressive symptoms in people with depression. There were major differences in the doses used, but typically the vitamin D supplement was 50100 g per day.

Dr Wolfgang Marx, a senior research fellow at Australias Deakin University who was involved with the research, told Vitafoods Insights: Vitamin D is a nutraceutical that has received much research attention however, individual studies have been somewhat inconsistent. This large meta-analysis provides confidence that vitamin D supplementation may be an effective adjunctive intervention in the management of depression and corroborates the recommendations of recent clinical guidelines.

Lead author Tuomas Mikola, from the Institute of Clinical Medicine at the University of Eastern Finland, urged caution at reading too much into the results.

Despite the broad scope of this meta-analysis, the certainty of evidence remains low due to the heterogeneity of the populations studied and due to the risk of bias associated with a large number of studies, he said.


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