Vitamin D could Improve Symptoms of Depression

sunset over a lake

A couple of months ago I wrote an article about Vitamin D deficiency. It seems the sunshine vitamin is good not only for our physical health but for our mental health too, and could be used as a possible treatment to relieve the symptoms of depression.

The link between low levels of Vitamin D and Depression

Earlier this year psychiatrists at UT Southwestern Medical Centre found a link between low levels of vitamin D and depression.  The study found that people with higher vitamin D levels had a significantly decreased risk of current depression, particularly if they had a prior history of depression. Low vitamin D levels were associated with depressive symptoms, particularly those with a history of depression.

Vitamin D, Inflammation and Depression

One of the reasons for this link is the role that vitamin D plays in neuromuscular and immune function, and reduction of inflammation. Back in 2009 scientists at the University of Illinois confirmed the link between chronic inflammation and depression.

According to Dr. E. Sherwood Brown, professor of psychiatry and senior author of the UT Southwestern study,

…vitamin D may affect neurotransmitters, inflammatory markers and other factors, which could help explain the relationship with depression.

Vitamin D improves Symptoms of Depression

Now, new research out this week has found that women with moderate to severe depression had substantial improvement in their symptoms of depression after they received treatment for their vitamin D deficiency.

The small study of three women concluded that because they did not change their antidepressant medications or other environmental factors that relate to depression, the correction of their underlying shortage of vitamin D might be responsible for the beneficial effect on depression.

According to researcher Sonal Pathak, MD, an endocrinologist at Bay Health Endocrinology in Dover, Del.,

The relationship between depression and vitamin D is likely a two-way street. People who have depression are at high risk for vitamin D deficiency because they stay indoors, don’t exercise too much, and are likely not eating a healthy diet.”

And Michael Holick, MD, PhD, says that people often feel better when they take vitamin D:

One of the effects that vitamin D has on the brain is to improve serotonin levels — which is the same chemical that many antidepressants act on.

These are exciting findings and more research is needed.  But for now, the best thing to do if you are being treated for depression is to ask your doctor to check your vitamin D levels with a simple blood test.

Links:

Read more about the link between vitamin D levels and depression.

Read more about the improvement of symptoms of depression with vitamin D.

Read more about the symptoms and treatment of vitamin D deficiency.

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