Feeling low can be a sign of vitamin D deficiency, research suggests.
Vitamin D may be linked to critical neurotransmitters and inflammatory markers that can cause depression.
Along with low mood, the most important symptoms of depression are:
- Decreased interest in life or pleasure.
- Energy loss.
- Concentration problems.
The conclusions come from a study of 12,600 people whose symptoms of depression and vitamin D levels were examined.
It emerged that people with low vitamin D levels were more likely to be depressed.
The study cannot tell us if low vitamin D is a cause of depression or the result.
The study’s authors explain:
“We found that low vitamin D levels are associated with depressive symptoms, especially in persons with a history of depression.
These findings suggest that primary care patients with a history of depression may be an important target for assessment of vitamin D levels.”
Foods that are rich in 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.
Up to 50% of young women may be deficient in this vitamin, other research has shown.
Professor E. Sherwood Brown, study co-author, said:
“Our findings suggest that screening for vitamin D levels in depressed patients — and perhaps screening for depression in people with low vitamin D levels — might be useful.
But we don’t have enough information yet to recommend going out and taking supplements.”
Vitamin D levels are now routinely tested during physical exams as deficiencies are linked to other health problems, such as obesity, diabetes and general cognitive decline.
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 Mayo Clinic Proceedings (Hoang et al., 2011).