Depression symptoms and vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency causes depression symptoms?

Depression symptoms are not caused by vitamin D deficiency. People with depression symptoms and Vitamin D deficiency do not recover when treated with high dose Vitamin D replacement therapy. Vitamin D is not an effective depression treatment even when blood levels of vitamin D are low. Vitamin D deficiency is a result of depressed mood and not a cause. This relationship of depression symptoms as a cause - not an effect - of Vitamin D deficiency was highlighted in a recent study. Treatment of depressed mood with Vitamin D replacement is ineffective.  

Estimating blood levels of Vitamin D in people with depression symptoms has recently become routine.  Laboratory chains too, have  got onto this lucrative bandwagon. High dose Vitamin D replacement is now being prescribed as the new treatment for depression.This is ineffective, and Vitamin D replacement can be toxic. Vitamin D toxicity manifests with nonspecific symptoms of nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, constipation, and weakness and calcium abnormalities. Therefore, treatment of Vitamin D deficiency and vitamin D supplements need to be coupled with appropriate medical supervision and monitoring while managing depressed mood.

Blood Vitamin D Levels
Interpretation ng/mL
Normal 30-60
Low <20
Insufficiency <30
Toxic >150

Exercise is routinely advised with prescription antidpressants for treatment of depression symptoms. Sunshine maintains healthy vitamin D levels. Ensure 5-10 minutes of sun exposure to the arms and legs two or three times a week. Get this sunshine by  walking outdoors.  Depressed mood is known  to improve with outdoor exercise in sunlight. If depressed mood still persists seek formal psychiatric consultation for what may be a moderate to severe depression. Vitamin D supplements can be toxic and are not an effective treatment for depression with or without a Vitamin D deficiency. Consult a psychiatrist for treatment of your depression symptoms.

Sources:

  1. Marie Kjærgaard, Knut Waterloo, Catharina E. A. Wang, Bjørg Almås, Yngve Figenschau, Moira S. Hutchinson, Johan Svartberg and Rolf Jorde. Effect of vitamin D supplement on depression scores in people with low levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D: nested case–control study and randomised clinical trial . Published online ahead of print July 12, 2012, doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.111.104349
  2. Sue Penckofer, PhD, RN, Joanne Kouba, PhD, RD, Mary Byrn, BSN, RN, and Carol Estwing Ferrans. Vitamin D and Depression: Where is all the Sunshine? Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2010 June; 31(6): 385–393. doi: 10.3109/01612840903437657
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