Mental Health Therapy: Is Vitamin D Deficiency Related To Depression? 

Updated on June 12, 2024

Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin. It is because your body can produce it when your skin faces sun exposure. Vitamin D is an essential and fat-soluble nutrient. It helps keep your bones healthy and strong. Moreover, it promotes cell growth and benefits immune function. It may also play a major role in fighting depression. Some reseach has been noted that many people with depression have low levels of vitamin D. There are many ways for the intake of this amazing vitamin. For instance, you can get it from sun exposure and through supplements. Here, we are going to discuss the connection between vitamin D and depression.

Why Do We Need Vitamin D?

Vitamin D has different key roles in your body. These roles include effective bone functioning, brain, muscle, and immune system. Other roles include inflammation regulation and immune function. Also, it takes part in blood sugar control.  Additionally, if you have a very low level of vitamin D deficiency, you might have serious bone ailments. For instance, rickets can occur, or you can get tetany (muscle cramping).

Deficiencies in Vitamin D are linked with various chronic diseases & cancers. Plus, other symptoms can be general. It includes recurrent viral illnesses, anxiety, fatigue, and depression. Moreover, symptoms like hair loss, muscle pain, and slow wound healing.

How Do We Get Vitamin D?

Let’s start by having a look at the diagram, which explains the procedures involved. 

First, vitamin D is produced in the skin by absorbing ultraviolet rays from sunlight.  It changes in our kidneys and liver to Vitamin D2. Then, into vitamin D3 (the effective and active form). Second, It is also present in our diets. For instance in foods as oily fish as D3. These fishes include mackerel, salmon, anchovies, herring, and sardines, etc., plus; it is also in some fortified foods like cereal. 

The Link Between Vitamin D and Depression

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Depression is a medical condition that alters the feelings, thoughts, or behaviors of a person. Researchers have found that a lot of people who have depression also have low levels of vitamin D circulating in their blood. Therefore, the two factors may be interlinked with each other. Studies have suggested that low vitamin D levels during pregnancy are linked to postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is a of depression that occurs after delivery. It can occur in the days, weeks, and months after a woman gives birth.

Researchers have found a possible correlation between depression and low vitamin D levels in people who have gout. Plus, they also found that people who have spinal cord injuries, stroke, and multiple sclerosis also have low vitamin D levels. Some small, high-quality studies have observed that multiple groups of people experience improvements in depression symptoms after starting the intake of vitamin D supplements. However, this potential advantage is not completely clear.

A study of around 18,000 depression patients says that taking 2,000 IU daily of vitamin D for 5 years did not make much difference in depression. Other studies have also proved that taking vitamin D has no impact on depression.

The findings are so mixed. Therefore, more research is required to determine how vitamin D shortage and depression may be connected. Also, more research is needed to know how the intake of vitamin D supplements might affect symptoms of depression.

Possible Causes for This Correlation

Kristie Tse, founder of Uncovercounseling, said, “Some of the symptoms of depression are social isolation and withdrawal. Depressive people spend less time outside. Therefore, their body lacks exposure to vitamin D. Serious cases of depression make it difficult for an individual to go out of bed. Also, they feel demotivated while taking part in outdoor activities. Social isolation only worsens the symptoms of depression. This is why healthcare providers motivate people with depression to spend more time outside with other people.”

Another possibility is people with depression may have a hard time eating a nutritious and well-balanced diet. Hence, they do not get enough vitamin D.  Moreover, people dealing with depression find it hard to take care of themselves adequately. They may not eat sufficiently and not get vitamin D supplements for themselves. Depression changes their behavior and thought processes. Ultimately, it makes them engage in behaviors that make the vitamin D deficiency worse.

Vitamin D and Depression Treatment

Vitamin D deficiency research has been taking place for several decades. In the past few years, researchers have examined if vitamin D supplements lessen depressive symptoms and improve mood. The latest research is quite promising. However, we understand that there is a need for large and well-controlled studies. It is needed to confirm whether vitamin D supplements have an impact on treating depression.

Additionally, the researchers point out that there is an urgent need to make reliable blood-level ranges. It will help health providers to prescribe an adequate dose of vitamin D supplements. It should be on the basis of blood level in conjunction with the intensity of the presenting symptoms.

Now, let us move on to the way to boost your vitamin D levels. You can consider adding these foods and supplements to your diet chart:

Vitamin D Supplements

Today, most multivitamins include 1,000 units of vitamin D. This quantity is up from 400 units just some years ago. Particular vitamin D supplements are also available at grocery stores and pharmacies. You can take these supplements along with foods to increase vitamin D consumption.

UV-Exposed Foods

Although mushrooms have no vitamin D, they produce vitamin D from exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet light. In fact, it can be a good dietary source of vitamin D. Hence, you can take mushrooms if you want to elevate vitamin D levels in your body. There are other Ultra Violet exposed foods you can search on the internet and consume in a well-balanced diet.

Vitamin D-Rich Foods

The foods which naturally rich in vitamin D include mackerel, wild-caught salmon, sardines, and tuna. It also includes other fatty fish, egg yolk, and cord liver oil. Moreover, Vitamin D-fortified foods include orange juice, cereal, and milk. Consuming these will also boost the vitamin D levels in your body.

Besides, one key misconception is that you can get vitamin D from sunlamps and tanning beds. The prime reason behind this misconception is they mimic sunlight. Some of the bulbs utilized in tanning beds emit only Ultra Violet Ray. Therefore, these lamps and beds are unable to produce vitamin D in human skin. However, most tanning beds emit a small amount of UVB light, therefore producing some vitamin D in the skin. Tanning sessions come with a major drawback. It increases the risk of skin cancer. These cancers include squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, and basal cell carcinoma.


There are many physiological benefits of vitamin D. However, the frequent claim that it can alleviate depression is still a debate. Plenty of studies have probed a link between low levels of vitamin D and depression signs. Specifically D3, the type of vitamin D we get when we eat dairy and fatty fish. Also, we consume vitamin D3 when our body is exposed to sunlight. Yet, it has not been proven that a deficiency of this vitamin results in depression or that taking a supplement removes depression.

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The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.