Vitamin D is popularly known to help us strengthen our bones with its ability to assist our body in absorbing calcium; and the lack thereof increases our chances in experiencing osteoporosis, osteopenia, and risk of fractures. Additionally, several studies have pointed out Vitamin D deficiency as contributing factor for other chronic diseases such as multiple sclerosis, breast cancer, colon and prostate cancers, and type 1 Diabetes. And in recent years, the link between Vitamin D deficiency and depression has been highly debated by various health experts, giving life to further studies that would determine the validity of such claims.
LOW MOOD and VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY
According to Michael S. Ritsner's Brain Protection in Schizophrenia, Mood and Cognitive Disorder, the most convincing evidence of a role for Vitamin D in depression comes from studies of patients with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD patients are thought to be exposed to less sunlight, thus, formation of Vitamin D3 might be abnormally low in these patients in winter. Furthermore, the book cited that Vitamin D deficiency or low serum levels of the precursor 25(OH)D3 is associated with low mood and depression in humans.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a mood disorder in which people experience depressive symptoms during specific times of the year, usually in winter where people don't get enough exposure of sunlight. In Sabina Dosani's Defeat Depression: 52 Brilliant Ideas For Healing A Troubled Mind 2nd Edition, a related findings that tackles the role of vitamin D to SAD is shown with study done by the Stockholm psychiatrists to a collected group of depressed patients that had been split into two. One group composed of patients who were depressed in winter and the other group composed of patients whose depression didn't change with the season. Patients whose depression has a seasonal pattern got a lot better with light box treatment, whereas, the second group who felt low whatever the weather didn't improve much with the light box treatment.
VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY IN OLDER PEOPLE LINKED TO DEPRESSION
In a study conducted by the researchers from the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore and published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, it was found that insufficient levels of vitamin D have been linked to a higher risk of depression in adults over the age of 65. Additionally, researchers are saying that vitamin D deficiency in the elderly may become in the future a strategy to prevent the development of depressive mood in the elderly and avoid its deleterious consequences on health.
Meanwhile, in the 2005 Health Survey for England, clinical vitamin D deficiency- defined as a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) level less than 10 ng/mL- was significantly associated with depressive symptoms among adults, 65 years and older. As part of the survey, information on health and health behaviors and socio-demographic data were collected, 25(OH)D levels were measured, and depressive symptoms scored using the Geriatric Depression Scale.
On a different note, despite the series of papers describing the relation of vitamin D deficiency to depression, some experts believe that more studies still need to be conducted to further strengthen explanation on the cause and effect theory.
While it is too early to tell that Vitamin D may help major depression, it is not too early to heed the advice that if you suffer from depression, get your 25(OH)D level checked and visit your health care professional for advice. In fact even if you do know show any sign or symptoms of depression, still get your Vitamin D levels in your body checked.