Low mood and depressive thoughts can be symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency, research suggests.
Along with low mood, the three most common symptoms of depression are:
- Concentration problems.
- Decreased interest in life or pleasure.
- Energy loss.
Around half of the world’s population is deficient in vitamin D.
The vitamin is also thought to play a role in regulating serotonin, a neurotransmitter important for mood.
Vitamin D deficiency is relatively easy to correct.
Foods that have high levels of vitamin D include oily fish and eggs, but most people get their vitamin D from the action of sunlight on the skin.
That is why levels are typically lower in the body through the winter months in more Northern climes.
Most people need around 10 micrograms per day, which can also be obtained from supplements.
The conclusions come from a study of 225 people being treated for psychosis.
They were compared to a healthy control group.
The results showed that among the people with psychosis, higher vitamin D deficiency was associated with more depressive symptoms.
The study’s authors conclude:
“In a clinical setting, this could support vitamin D as adjuvant therapy in treating co-morbid depressions in psychotic disorders
The associations between low vitamin D levels and increased negative and depressive symptoms, and decreased processing speed and verbal fluency are good arguments for planning large scale randomised controlled studies in target populations, in order to reach conclusions about vitamin D’s potential beneficial effect in psychotic disorders.”
The study does not tell us whether vitamin D deficiency causes depression or results from it.
However, vitamin D may affect critical neurotransmitters and inflammatory markers.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Schizophrenia Research (Nerhus et al., 2016)