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There are some reports of treating depression with vitamin D. In a study in Washington State:
METHOD: In this study, nine women with serum vitamin D levels <40 ng/ml were administered the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI)-II. After vitamin D3 supplementation, six of these women completed the BDI-II and had their serum vitamin D levels reassessed.
RESULTS: Vitamin D supplementation was associated not only with an increase in the serum D levels by an average of 27 ng/ml but also with a decline in the BDI-II scores of an average of 10 points1.
In a study in Norway, vitamin D supplementation reduced the symptoms of depression:
OBJECTIVES: The objective of the present study was to examine the cross-sectional relation between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25-(OH) D] levels and depression in overweight and obese subjects and to assess the effect of vitamin D supplementation on depressive symptoms.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional study and randomized double blind controlled trial of 20,000 or 40,000 IU vitamin D per week versus placebo for 1 year.
SETTING: A total of 441 subjects (body mass index 28-47 kg m(-2), 159 men and 282 women, aged 21-70 years) recruited by advertisements or from the out-patient clinic at the University Hospital of North Norway.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) score with subscales 1-13 and 14-21.
RESULTS: Subjects with serum 25(OH)D levels < 40 nmol L(-1) scored significantly higher (more depressive traits) than those with serum 25(OH)D levels > or = 40 nmol L(-1) on the BDI total [6.0 (0-23) versus 4.5 (0-28) (median and range)] and the BDI subscale 1-13 [2.0 (0-15) versus 1.0 (0-29.5)] (P < 0.05). In the two groups given vitamin D, but not in the placebo group, there was a significant improvement in BDI scores after 1 year. There was a significant decrease in serum parathyroid hormone in the two vitamin D groups without a concomitant increase in serum calcium. CONCLUSIONS: It appears to be a relation between serum levels of 25(OH)D and symptoms of depression. Supplementation with high doses of vitamin D seems to ameliorate these symptoms indicating a possible causal relationship2.
Based on observational studies of other diseases, it appears that serum 25(OH)D levels of 30 ng/mL to 50 ng/mL would reduce the severity of depression. A recent review concluded:
Effective detection and treatment of inadequate vitamin D levels in persons with depression and other mental disorders may be an easy and cost-effective therapy which could improve patients’ long-term health outcomes as well as their quality of life3.
Page last edited: 06 May 2011
- Shipowick, C. D. Moore, C. B. Corbett, C. Bindler, R. Vitamin D and depressive symptoms in women during the winter: a pilot study. Appl Nurs Res. 2009 Aug; 22 (3): 221-5.
- Jorde, R. Sneve, M. Figenschau, Y. Svartberg, J. Waterloo, K. Effects of vitamin D supplementation on symptoms of depression in overweight and obese subjects: randomized double blind trial. J Intern Med. 2008 Dec; 264 (6): 599-609.
- Penckofer, S. Kouba, J. Byrn, M. Estwing Ferrans, C. Vitamin D and depression: where is all the sunshine?. Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2010 Jun; 31 (6): 385-93.