Depression can be a sign of vitamin D deficiency, recent research suggests.
Vitamin D deficiency is linked to a 75 percent higher risk of depression.
Symptoms of depression include moodiness, lack of motivation and tiredness.
Depression is also linked to physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, dizziness and muscle pain.
The results come from a study of almost 4,000 older adults in Ireland.
They were followed up over 4 years for any depression symptoms and vitamin D levels.
The results showed that people with vitamin D deficiency were 75 percent more likely to have depression symptoms.
Vitamin D may have a direct effect on the brain and has also been linked to Parkinson’s disease and dementia.
Dr Robert Briggs, the study’s first author, said:
“This is the largest representative and most comprehensive study of depression risk and vitamin D status in older adults ever conducted in Ireland.
Our findings will provide useful information to help inform public health policy – particularly regarding the proposition of the usefulness of vitamin D treatment/supplementation for depression.”
The link between vitamin D and depression is not confined to older adults.
One recent study found that vitamin D deficiency is linked to depressive symptoms and more negative thoughts in young women.
Dr Eamon Laird, study co-author, said:
“This study shows that vitamin D is associated with a health condition other than bone health.
What is surprising is the large effect on depression even after accounting for other control variables.
This is highly relevant for Ireland as our previous research has shown that one in eight older adults are deficient in the summer and one in four during the winter.
Moreover, only around 8% of older Irish adults report taking a vitamin D supplement.”
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 The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine (Briggs et al., 2018).