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Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Depression

Supplements May Help Depression in People With Vitamin D Deficiency

The Link Between Vitamin D Levels and Depression

The relationship between depression and vitamin D is likely a two-way street, Pathuk says. "People who have depression are at high risk for vitamin D deficiency because they stay indoors, don't exercise too much, and are likely not eating a healthy diet."

There are also vitamin D receptors in areas of the brain that help regulate behavior and emotion, she says.

"It is not unusual for people with depression to be deficient in vitamin D and treating the deficiency may make a huge difference in how they feel," Pathuk says.

If you are being treated for depression, ask your doctor to test your vitamin D levels. "If you are deficient, get treated," she says.

"People often feel better when they take vitamin D," says Michael Holick, MD, PhD. He is the director of the Vitamin D, Skin, and Bone Research Lab at Boston University. "One of the effects that vitamin D has on the brain is to improve serotonin levels -- which is the same chemical that many antidepressants act on."

"This is an interesting study," says Erin LeBlanc, MD. She is an endocrinologist and researcher at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland. "It does show that vitamin D and its effects on things besides bone should be studied more."

The next step would be a trial where some people with depression get vitamin D and others get an inactive placebo, she says.

These findings were presented at a medical conference. They should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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