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Does Vitamin D Help With Depression? What You Need To Know

Researchers found that taking vitamin D supplements helped people with their depressive symptoms, and the effect was similar to taking an antidepressant. Keep reading to learn more about the relationship between depression and vitamin D.

By We Level Up FL Treatment Center | Editor Yamilla Francese | Clinically Reviewed By Lauren Barry, LMFT, MCAP, QS, Director of Quality Assurance | Editorial Policy | Research Policy | Last Updated: February 8, 2023

Does Vitamin D Help With Depression? Vitamins For Depression

Vitamin D And Depression: Vitamin D Depression

Does Vitamin D Deficiency Cause Depression? Vitamin D is sometimes referred to as “the sunshine vitamin,” which is enough to make you grin. It turns out that vitamin D may also improve your mood in other ways.

Researchers found that taking vitamin D supplements helped people with their depressive symptoms, and the effect was similar to taking an antidepressant. The review was published in the journal Nutrients in April 2014.

Although less conclusive, a subsequent review from April 2014 in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine did find that taking extra vitamin D appeared to help those with more severe depression reduce their symptoms. This finding supported earlier research that suggested supplements may not be as effective for those with less severe depression.

Vitamins For Depression: There is some evidence that suggests that our vitamin D levels may affect cognitive performance. Marisa Moore, RDN, LD, an integrative and culinary dietitian in Atlanta, adds that vitamin D [supplementation] may help those who already have a deficiency in the vitamin reduce their symptoms of depression.

Vitamins For Depression: The problem is that quite a few of us — roughly 40% — just aren’t receiving enough D, per a study published in the journal Cureus in June 2018. According to Abbie Gellman, RD, CDN, a nutritionist in New York City and the creator of The Mediterranean DASH Diet Cookbook, “How much you get depends on where you reside.”

According to her, residents of northern parts of the country, including those in or near San Francisco, Denver, St. Louis, and Richmond, Virginia, are unlikely to get enough vitamin D through sunlight.

Plus, there are just a few foods that naturally contain vitamin D, such as fatty fish like salmon and tuna, certain mushrooms, egg yolks, cheese, and cow liver. Many kinds of cereal, soy milk, oat milk, and cow’s milk are among the fortified foods that contain significantly more fat-soluble vitamins.

Vitamin D Deficiency Depression: Vitamin D Deficiency And Depression

Vitamin Deficiency And Depression: You’ll need a blood test to determine your vitamin D status. A result of 30 nmol/L or less is considered to be too low, and anything over 125 nmol/L is considered to be too high. According to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, the aim for 50 nmol/L or slightly higher (ODS).

The risk of vitamin D deficiency is higher for some people, notably those with darker skin. More melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color, is found in the skin that is darker, and more melanin makes it more difficult for the skin to manufacture the vitamin from sunshine.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, people who are lactose intolerant (i.e., those who struggle to consume lactose, a protein found in milk and milk products), may also be less likely to get enough vitamin D because fortified milk is a significant dietary source of the vitamin.

Compared to those of European heritage, people of African-American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, and Asian descent are more likely to be lactose intolerant.

According to the ODS, other groups are at a higher risk:

  • Older adults (As we age, our skin doesn’t synthesize vitamin D as efficiently.)
  • People who are obese (Greater amounts of subcutaneous fat trap vitamin D, possibly interfering with how much of the vitamin can circulate in the body.)
  • Anyone who has difficulty absorbing fat, such as those with inflammatory bowel disease or celiac disease or who have had gastric bypass surgery
  • Individuals who do not spend time outdoors or do not expose their skin

Vitamin B12 Depression

The production of brain chemicals that influence mood and other cognitive processes is aided by vitamin B-12 and other B vitamins. Depression may be associated with low levels of vitamin B-12 and other B vitamins like folate and vitamin B-6.

A poor diet or an inability to absorb the vitamins you take in can cause low levels of vitamins. Getting adequate B-12 may be difficult for older folks, vegetarians, and those suffering from gastrointestinal diseases such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease. A lack of vitamin B-12 can occasionally happen for unclear causes. If a vitamin shortage is suspected, your doctor may request a blood test to examine levels of B-12 or other vitamins.

Taking a daily vitamin supplement containing vitamin B-12 may help your body acquire the nutrients it needs if you have a vitamin B-12 shortage. But the effectiveness of vitamin B-12 supplements in lowering the incidence of depression has been questioned and the results of studies have been conflicting. Before taking a vitamin supplement, consult your doctor because B-12 and other vitamins can interact with some drugs, especially when used at high levels.

Eating a nutritious diet that contains sources of important nutrients is the best approach to ensure that you are getting enough B-12 and other vitamins. Animal items like fish, lean meat, poultry, eggs, and low-fat and fat-free milk are rich sources of vitamin B-12. Breakfast cereals that have been fortified are a rich source of B-12 and other B vitamins.

Researchers found that taking vitamin D supplements helped people with their depressive symptoms, and the effect was similar to taking an antidepressant.
Can Vitamin D Help Depression? Researchers found that taking vitamin D supplements helped people with their depressive symptoms, and the effect was similar to taking an antidepressant.

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Depression Fact Sheet

Depression Overview

Depression is a group of illnesses like depression or bipolar disorder that are connected to mood elevation or depression

Types of Depression

Clinical Depression: A mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life.

Persistent depressive disorder: A mild but long-term form of depression.

Bipolar disorder: A disorder associated with episodes of mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs.

Bipolar II disorder:  A type of bipolar disorder characterized by depressive and hypomanic episodes.

Postpartum depression: Depression that occurs after childbirth.

Depression Treatments

  • Support group: A place where those pursuing the same disease or objective, such as weight loss or depression, can receive counseling and exchange experiences.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: A conversation treatment that aimed to change the negative attitudes, actions, and feelings connected to psychiatric discomfort.
  • Counseling psychology: A subfield of psychology that handles issues with the self that are connected to work, school, family, and social life.
  • Anger management: To reduce destructive emotional outbursts, practice mindfulness, coping skills, and trigger avoidance.
  • Psychoeducation: Mental health education that also helps individuals feel supported, validated, and empowered
  • Family therapy: psychological counseling that improves family communication and conflict resolution.

Depression Statistics

One of the most prevalent mental diseases in the US is major depression. Some people who have serious depression may experience substantial impairments that impede or restrict their capacity to engage in important life activities.

21 million

An estimated 21.0 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 8.4% of all U.S. adults.

Source: National Institute on Mental Health


The prevalence of major depressive episodes was higher among adult females (10.5%) compared to males (6.2%).

Source: National Institute on Mental Health


The prevalence of adults with a major depressive episode was highest among individuals aged 18-25 (17.0%).

Source: National Institute of Mental Health

Does Vitamin D Help With Depression? Vitamins For Anxiety And Depression

Several studies have shown that taking vitamin D supplements leads to improvements in the signs and symptoms of depression.
Does Vitamin D Help Depression? Several studies have shown that taking vitamin D supplements leads to improvements in the signs and symptoms of depression.

Vitamin D For Depression: Depression And Vitamin D

It is probable that the two factors are related because studies have shown that many persons with depression also have low blood levels of vitamin D circulating.

Numerous studies, in particular, have revealed a link between low vitamin D levels during pregnancy and postpartum depression, a type of depression that manifests in the days, weeks, and months following childbirth.

Researchers have also discovered possible links between depression and low vitamin D levels in persons who have multiple sclerosis, gout, chronic spinal cord injuries, and chronic back pain.

Several modest, high-quality studies have shown that taking vitamin D supplements leads to improvements in the signs and symptoms of depression in a number of different populations.

This potential advantage is not entirely evident, though.

A meaningful difference between taking a placebo or 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day for five years was not identified in a large, high-quality trial involving more than 18,000 depressed individuals.

Numerous further research likewise concluded that vitamin D supplementation had no impact on depression. More research is required to clarify the potential associations between vitamin D deficiency and depression as well as how vitamin D supplementation may influence depressive symptoms because the results are so contradictory.

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Vitamins For Depression And Anxiety: Risk factors for vitamin D deficiency

Age, other lifestyle choices, and limited sun exposure can all contribute to low vitamin D levels. Here is further information on the dangers of vitamin D insufficiency.

Depression Vitamin D: Limited sun exposure

For most people, getting enough sun exposure is their main source of vitamin D. You can reduce your exposure by avoiding the sun. A lack of vitamin D may result from this.

The amount of sunlight you require will vary depending on your location, the time of day, and the season. Vitamin D is often produced more quickly by those with lighter skin than those with a darker complexion.

Depression Vitamin: Diet

Not many foods are naturally rich in vitamin D. You can increase your intake by eating more of these great natural sources of vitamin D:

  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Other fatty fish
  • Fish liver oils
  • Animal fats
  • Vitamin D-fortified food products, such as orange juice and cereal

If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, there’s a chance you’re not getting enough vitamin D.

Vegan vitamin D sources include:

  • Fortified plant-based milk, fruit juices, and grain products
  • Mushrooms that have been exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light to increase their vitamin D content

Low Vitamin D Depression: Darker skin tone

Low Vitamin D And Depression: Black individuals in the United States appear to have a higher prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency than other populations. According to one study that used information from a significant U.S. health study conducted between 2011 and 2014, around 17.5% of Black persons were at risk for vitamin D deficiency, compared to 7.6% of Asian, 2.1% of White, and 5.9% of Hispanic people.

This gap may exist as a result of darker-skinned individuals having higher melanin levels, the pigment that gives skin its color. Melanin appears to prevent the skin from producing vitamin D. Consult a healthcare provider about your options if you are worried about the vitamin D your exposure to the sun produces. It’s also crucial to increase the amount of vitamin D-rich foods in your diet, such as:

  • Trout or salmon
  • Vitamin D-fortified mushrooms
  • Vitamin D-fortified dairy or plant-based milk
  • Eggs

Depression Vitamin Deficiency: Obesity

Vitamins To Help Depression: There is a connection between those with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above and vitamin D deficiency. People with obesity may require more vitamin D absorption than those with a modest weight in order to meet prescribed nutritional levels.

Ask a medical practitioner about getting your vitamin D levels checked if your BMI is 30 or higher. They can assist you in developing a strategy to raise your levels. To treat a vitamin D shortage, doctors frequently recommend a high-dose vitamin D supplement.

Can Vitamin D Deficiency Cause Depression? Symptoms of Vitamin Deficiency Depression

The symptoms of depression and vitamin D insufficiency are two separate illnesses. Speak to a healthcare provider if you have symptoms of either, or both, illnesses.

If you don’t get enough vitamin D, you could experience:

  • Aching bones
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Weakness and pain in your muscles and joints

Symptoms of depression may include:

  • Overwhelming feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and helplessness
  • Insomnia or excessive sleepiness, known as hypersomnia
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive weight loss or weight gain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Problems concentrating
  • Forgetfulness
  • Loss of sexual interest
  • Headaches or back pains
  • Anxiety
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

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Treating Vitamin D Deficiency and Depression: Natural Vitamins For Depression

Depression and vitamin D insufficiency are two distinct illnesses that call for different therapies. Although the evidence is conflicting, treating a vitamin D deficiency may also help with depression.

Can Lack Of Vitamin D Cause Depression? Treatments

Vitamins That Help Depression: A healthcare professional may advise you to address vitamin D deficiency and its symptoms by increasing your intake of this vital nutrient. Ways you can consume more vitamin D include:

  • Taking vitamin D supplements
  • Increasing your sun exposure
  • Eating foods that contain vitamin D or are fortified with vitamin D
Can Low Vitamin D Cause Depression? Although the evidence is conflicting, treating a vitamin D deficiency may also help with depression.
Can Low Vitamin D Cause Depression? Although the evidence is conflicting, treating a vitamin D deficiency may also help with depression.

Treatments for Depression

Psychotherapy and antidepressants are frequently recommended by medical practitioners to treat depression. Depending on your symptoms and treatment objectives, you can use either one of these methods alone or in conjunction with dietary changes.

Increasing your vitamin D intake could assist with symptoms of depression if a vitamin D deficiency is the cause. Consult a medical expert to learn more about your treatment options and what might be most effective for you. Here are some other actions you may take if you’re depressed that might help lessen your symptoms:

  • Sign up for a support group. You can find others who are going through the same symptoms online, over the phone, or in your local area by joining a support group. They are able to encourage and show sympathy.
  • Regular exercise. Regular exercise releases “feel-good” chemicals like endorphins into the brain, which helps to lessen the symptoms of depression. Cardio should be done for around 30 minutes a day, three times per week, and more days and minutes can be added as needed.
  • Maintain a consistent sleep routine. Maintain a regular sleep schedule to manage depression-related sleep problems. A sleep and wake alarm might be set. You could also keep a journal to track your development, noting your sleep duration and caliber.
  • Contact your loved ones. You might find support from your friends or family while you manage your symptoms. Your network of reliable, encouraging friends and family may be able to assist your treatment efforts if you are able to talk to them about your depression.

Best Vitamins For Energy And Depression: Best Vitamins For Anxiety And Depression (Depression Vitamins)

What Natural Vitamins Are Good For Depression? Vitamins For Tiredness And DepressionVitamin B And Depression

Vitamins Depression: B vitamins are crucial in assisting the brain in producing enough of the chemicals needed to control mood and other mental processes (Vitamin B Depression). Someone may be more susceptible to depressive symptoms if they have low amounts of B vitamins, especially B-12. B-vitamin deficits are frequently observed in depressed individuals.

Best Vitamins For Depression (Vitamin Depression): Even in the absence of a specific problem, aging might make it harder for the body to absorb adequate vitamin B-12. B vitamins can aid in reducing fatigue, which is a common sign of depression. B-12 in particular is well known for helping to lessen fatigue.

What Vitamins Are Good For Depression? Fish, lean meats, eggs, poultry, and milk are a few of the foods that have high B-12 concentrations. Some morning cereals could also be B-12-fortified. If someone is a vegan or vegetarian or may not be getting enough B-12 for any reason, taking a supplement can assist.

What Vitamins Help With Depression? Best Vitamin For Depression: The following are additional vitamins that help with depression or vitamins that are important for brain health:

Best Vitamins To Fight Depression And Anxiety: Best Vitamins For Depression And Anxiety

  • Vitamins That Help With Anxiety And Depression: B-3 vitamin. Vitamin B-3, also known as niacin, is vital for the synthesis of serotonin, a crucial neurotransmitter in the brain that facilitates communication between brain cells. Serotonin levels may be low in depressed people. A person’s mood may be negatively impacted by a vitamin B3 deficiency. A daily intake of 20 mg of B-3 may be beneficial for persons who have depressive symptoms.
  • Vitamins To Help With Depression: B-9 vitamin. The names folate and folic acid also refer to vitamin B-9. Pregnant women are recommended to take vitamin B-9 supplements, and even women who aren’t actively attempting to get pregnant but could still do so are frequently instructed to do so. Vitamin B-9 can assist in reducing the risk of some birth abnormalities associated with the brain during pregnancy. This vitamin aids in the manufacture of serotonin, which is essential for mood regulation.

Vitamin C Depression

It may come as a surprise that vitamin C levels and mood are related, but those who are vitamin C deficient frequently experience weariness or depression. According to several research, people who have vitamin C levels that are below average report feeling happier after taking vitamin C.

However, taking a vitamin C supplement may improve mood even in those whose vitamin C levels are not known to be low. Participants in some trials claimed that vitamin C reduced their anxiety.

Vitamins For Seasonal Depression: Vitamin D For Seasonal Depression

Does vitamin D help with seasonal depression? Depression has been linked to vitamin D deficiency. According to one study, supplementing women with 5,000 IU (international units) of vitamin D per day throughout the wintertime dramatically decreased their SAD symptoms.

Another study did not discover any symptom improvement from vitamin D treatment, either. Although the evidence is unclear, vitamin D may aid with SAD-related mood improvement.

People are more likely to wear sunscreen outside to protect themselves from ailments like skin cancer and early aging, which is another cause of vitamin D insufficiency.

Seasonal Depression Vitamin D: Vitamin D Seasonal Depression

A hormone produced by the body or taken in as nutrition is vitamin D. It is crucial for numerous physical processes as well as mental processes, and has many positive health effects. When skin is exposed to UVB rays from the sun or light therapy, the body can manufacture vitamin D. You can also obtain vitamin D by consuming specific foods.

The body produces vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), which can be found in foods including oily fish, dairy products, meat, mushrooms, leafy green vegetables, and other items enriched with vitamin D. Although vitamin D is primarily recognized for its advantages in bone protection, it also contributes significantly to sustaining happiness and general well-being.

Serotonin, a key neurotransmitter for mood, happiness, and other good emotions, is controlled by vitamin D. As a result, decreased serotonin activity during the winter may be caused by lower vitamin D levels.

The production of melatonin, which controls sleep-wake cycles that are frequently disturbed in SAD sufferers, also depends on serotonin. This suggests that having enough levels of vitamin D in the body may support emotional brain circuitry, regulate sleep patterns, and lessen depressive symptoms.

How Much Vitamin D Should I Take For Depression? Vitamin D Dosage For Depression

Vitamin For Depression: According to the National Institutes of Health, the average person should take 600 IU of vitamin D daily, although taking up to 4,000 IU without consulting a doctor is safe. A medical expert might advise a greater dosage, though.

The amounts used in high-quality research examining the relationship between vitamin D and depression ranged widely, for instance, from 4,000 IU per day for 12 weeks to a single injection of 300,000 IU.

Before starting to take high-dose vitamin D supplements, it’s crucial to get your vitamin D levels evaluated. To find the ideal dosage for you, you should also work closely with a healthcare practitioner.

As a fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin D can accumulate in your fat cells. Because of this, consuming large quantities of vitamin D over an extended period of time may result in vitamin D toxicity, which can result in excessive calcium levels, kidney stones, digestive issues, and neurological abnormalities.

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Vitamin D and Depression FAQs

  1. Does Vitamin D3 Help With Depression? Vitamin D3 Depression (Depression Vitamin D3)

    When given to depressed patients, vitamin D3 may have an antidepressant effect. The likelihood of recurrence may be decreased by ongoing supplementation.

  2. Vitamin D Or D3 For Depression?

    In women with type 2 diabetes, the study found that taking vitamin D supplements dramatically reduced anxiety levels. According to a different study, people with anxiety had decreased levels of the hormone calcidiol.

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