- Vitamin RDI Chart
- Effects on Depression
- Risk Factors
- Related Resources
Vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin) is a fat-soluble nutrient that is vital for both physical and mental health. It is essential to keep the bones healthy and strong and promotes cell growth and immune function. Although the exact role of vitamin D in immunity is unclear, vitamin D seems to be important in mood and memory physiology.
Depression is a disabling condition that impairs all aspects of human function and is the leading cause of disability, affecting about 121 million people worldwide.
What are the normal requirements of vitamin D?
|0 to 12 months||400 IU (20 mcg)||400 IU (20 mcg)||-||-|
|1 to 13 years||600 IU (15 mcg)||600 IU (15 mcg)||-||-|
|14 to 18 years||600 IU (15 mcg)||600 IU (15 mcg)||600 IU (15 mcg)||600 IU (15 mcg)|
|19 to 50 years||600 IU (15 mcg)||600 IU (15 mcg)||600 IU (15 mcg)||600 IU (15 mcg)|
|51 to 70 years||600 IU (15 mcg)||600 IU (15 mcg)||-||-|
|Older than 70 years||800 IU (20 mcg)||800 IU (20 mcg)||-||-|
Can vitamin D deficiency lead to depression?
Although several issues in the relationship between depression and low levels of vitamin D remain controversial and need further studies, the literature provides enough data to recommend screening for and treating vitamin D deficiency in people with depression. These are easy and cost-effective and may improve depression outcomes.
Low levels of vitamin D may contribute to various other mental disorders, such as:
What are the risk factors for vitamin D deficiency?
Here are the risk factors for vitamin D deficiency:
- Limited sun exposure:
- For most people, sunlight exposure is the primary source of vitamin D.
- The amount of sun exposure to attain an optimum vitamin D level depends on certain factors, such as climate, the time of day and year, and the individual skin tone.
- Dark skin tone:
- Vitamin D deficiency appears to be more prevalent in people with darker skin tones because they have higher amounts of melanin, a natural pigment that gives skin its color.
- Melanin is responsible for inhibiting vitamin D production in the skin.
- Inadequate diet:
- Consuming the following natural sources of vitamin D regularly could help fulfill the requirement:
- For people who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, some of the vegan vitamin D sources include
- Fortified plant-based milk, fruit juices, and grains
- Mushrooms that have been exposed to ultraviolet light
- Studies have reported a link between vitamin D deficiency and people with a body mass index of 30 or higher.
- Obese people may need to absorb more vitamin D to reach recommended nutrient levels than people with moderate weight.
- Older age group:
- Skin becomes less efficient at producing vitamin D with age.
- In addition, older adults tend to limit their time in the sun and may eat diets with insufficient amounts of vitamin D.
- Certain population:
What are the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency and depression?
Vitamin D deficiency is defined as a condition with a vitamin D level of less than 20 nmol/L.
People with vitamin D deficiency may experience symptoms, such as:
- Aching bones
- Pain in the muscles and joints
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive weight loss or gain
- Trouble sleeping
Symptoms of depression include:
- Anhedonia (loss of interest in the activities previously enjoyed)
- Overwhelming feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and helplessness
- Lack of concentration and focus
- Difficulty sleeping or eating
- Insomnia or excessive sleepiness
- Excessive weight loss or gain
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of sexual interest
- Headaches or backaches
- Isolation and withdrawal
- Suicidal tendencies or ideations
Daily dosage and treatment for vitamin D deficiency and depression
According to the NIH, for most people, a daily dose of 600 IU of vitamin D is recommended.
It is important to analyze vitamin D levels before taking high-dose vitamin D supplements because taking high doses over time may lead to vitamin D toxicity, which can cause high calcium levels, kidney stones, digestive problems, and neurological changes.
The best way to treat vitamin D deficiency is to:
- Increase exposure to the sun.
- Increase intake of foods fortified with vitamin D.
- Take vitamin D supplements.
Common treatments for depression include:
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
What to Know About Vitamin D and Mental Health. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/what-to-know-about-vitamin-d-and-mental-health
Vitamin D and Depression: Where is all the Sunshine? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908269/
Depression and Vitamin D Deficiency: Causality, Assessment, and Clinical Practice Implications. https://www.jneuropsychiatry.org/peer-review/depression-and-vitamin-d-deficiency-causality-assessment-and-clinical-practice-implications-12051.html
Depression in Women: Is There a Role for Vitamin D? https://womensmentalhealth.org/posts/depression-in-women-is-there-a-role-for-vitamin-d/
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