Depression low vitamin d

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  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

    Also visit the online treatment locator.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.

Also visit the online treatment locator, or send your zip code via text message: 435748 (HELP4U) to find help near you. Read more about the HELP4U text messaging service.

The service is open 24/7, 365 days a year.

English and Spanish are available if you select the option to speak with a national representative. Currently, the 435748 (HELP4U) text messaging service is only available in English.

In 2020, the Helpline received 833,598 calls. This is a 27 percent increase from 2019, when the Helpline received a total of 656,953 calls for the year.

The referral service is free of charge. If you have no insurance or are underinsured, we will refer you to your state office, which is responsible for state-funded treatment programs. In addition, we can often refer you to facilities that charge on a sliding fee scale or accept Medicare or Medicaid. If you have health insurance, you are encouraged to contact your insurer for a list of participating health care providers and facilities.

The service is confidential. We will not ask you for any personal information. We may ask for your zip code or other pertinent geographic information in order to track calls being routed to other offices or to accurately identify the local resources appropriate to your needs.

No, we do not provide counseling. Trained information specialists answer calls, transfer callers to state services or other appropriate intake centers in their states, and connect them with local assistance and support.

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    For additional resources, please visit the SAMHSA Store.

Last Updated: 08/30/2022

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Vitamin D deficiency and depression treatment articles

General practitioner


Olesya Grigorievna

Experience 23 years

District physician, member of the Russian Scientific Medical Society of Therapists

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Author of the article: Savelyeva Olesya Grigoryevna, physician of the highest category of JSC "Medicine" (clinic of Academician Roitberg), member of the Russian Scientific Medical Society of Therapists

Unexpectedly, the cause of seasonal mood disorders, the appearance of depression, insomnia, and even weight gain can be vitamin D deficiency. This vitamin hormone affects the function of the gene for a key enzyme in the biosynthesis of neurotransmitters (adrenaline, norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, and alpha-aminobutyric acid).

Insufficient insolation disrupts the transition of vitamin D to its active form, and this leads to:

  • a decrease in the production of “good mood hormones” responsible for the formation of positive emotions - serotonin and dopamine;

  • the development of depressive conditions;

  • decrease in stress resistance and attention.

Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of developing depression at any age (including childhood and the elderly). It has been proven that vitamin receptors are located in the areas of the brain responsible for planning, processing and forming memories - a violation of the activation of these receptors also triggers the mechanisms of depression formation.

  • Interestingly, the likelihood of postpartum depression is increased in women who gave birth on cloudy days. Approximately half of pregnant women worldwide are vitamin D deficient. At 18 weeks pregnant, women with low vitamin D levels were 2.19 times more likely to have symptoms of depression (anxiety, sadness, mood swings, tearfulness, sleep problems) than women with maintained hormone levels.

  • Physicians at the University of Oregon (USA) conducted a study of 180 female students, which showed that symptoms of depression were more common in girls with reduced levels of vitamin D. Depressive syndrome negatively affects cognitive performance, leading to memory impairment.

Currently, the role of vitamin D in the formation of depression variants that may be associated with neurological disorders in multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease is being investigated.

The ability of vitamin D to maintain a balanced activity of the nervous system is undeniable. The seasonal nature of changes dictates the need for timely correction of changes. Natural sources of vitamin D are foods (for example, fatty fish, yolk, butter, cheese) and its synthesis under the action of ultraviolet rays. You can change your diet on your own, but it is up to your doctor to decide if you need to take vitamin D supplements after you have done an examination, history, and diagnostic tests.

what the body needs, can a deficiency cause depression, deficiency symptoms and how to compensate for it

Daniil Davydov

medical journalist

Author profile

Depression is a complex disease, the occurrence of which involves many factors.

Theoretically, vitamin D deficiency can also contribute to it, but this is not the main cause of depression. Therefore, vitamin D supplements cannot cure depression. To get rid of this problem, you need to contact a clinical psychologist, psychotherapist or psychiatrist.

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Our articles are written with love for evidence-based medicine. We refer to authoritative sources and go to doctors with a good reputation for comments. But remember: the responsibility for your health lies with you and your doctor. We don't write prescriptions, we make recommendations. Relying on our point of view or not is up to you.

Why Vitamin D is needed

Vitamin D is one of the thirteen organic compounds that people need for normal growth, development and a healthy life. Most of these substances help proteins to work, accelerating chemical reactions in the body, and some also control the work of internal organs.

Overview of Vitamin D - An updated guide for physicians Uptodate

For example, vitamin D binds to receptors on intestinal cells, turning on some genes and activating others. So it makes the intestinal cells absorb more calcium from food. If it were not for vitamin D, we would absorb only 10-15% of calcium. And under the influence of this vitamin, we absorb 30-40%.

Why Calcium is needed and how it works - StatPearls Updated Primer for Medical Students

This is very important because we need a lot of calcium. Calcium is the basis of bones and teeth, they account for 99% of the total mineral in the body. But calcium is not only found in the bones. Approximately 1% of calcium is dissolved in the blood. They call it free. This calcium plays an equally important role in the work of our body.

Non-Skeletal Functions of Vitamin D - Uptodate

Free calcium helps contract muscles, release hormones into the blood, and transmit nerve impulses in nerve cells. This means that vitamin D plays an important role not only in skeletal health and muscle strength, but also in brain function.

Can a lack of vitamin D cause depression

Since vitamin D helps neurons get free calcium, without which they cannot function properly, it seems logical that a lack of this substance can lead to problems in brain function. For example, mental disorders. Theoretically, there may well be a link between vitamin D levels and depression.

Clinical depression is a disease associated with disorders in the functioning of nerve cells. At the same time, it is known that vitamin D is involved in the growth, development and nutrition of almost all brain neurons, including those that are part of the cingulate gyrus and the hippocampus. The risk of developing clinical depression increases when problems start in these areas of the brain.

What is depression? - Bulletin of the American Psychiatric Association

Vitamin D plays an important role in the functioning of nerve cells - Journal of Psychoneuroendocrinology

Vitamin D receptors are found in brain regions important for the development of depression - Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy

Vitamin D deficiency and depression in adults: systematic review and meta-analysis - British Psychiatric Journal

Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that problems in the functioning of the neurons that make up the cingulate gyrus and the hippocampus may be associated with a lack of vitamin D.

In 2018, a group of scientists decided to test this. They analyzed 14 observational studies whose authors followed the lives of more than 30,000 people. The organizers of the observations were interested in whether there is a link between low levels of vitamin D in the blood and a high risk of developing depression.

In most studies, participants with and without depression were tested for the concentration of this vitamin in the blood and compared the results. After reviewing the data, the authors of the review concluded that people whose vitamin D levels were below normal, i.e. 75 nmol/l, were more likely to complain of symptoms of depression than those who had enough vitamin D.

But this does not mean that vitamin D deficiency is the main cause of depression. For example, vitamin D levels can drop simply because a person who is depressed due to a lack of energy begins to eat less well and go out less often, so that less vitamin is produced in his skin.


Vitamins: what foods contain and how to take supplements . At least, because dysregulation of the brain in this condition can be associated not only with internal, but also with external causes.

Internal causes are directly related to a malfunction in the work of neurons, in which there is a lack of neurotransmitters in nerve cells - chemicals responsible for regulating mood. It is possible that vitamin D deficiency can aggravate or provoke such failures.

Causes of depression in adults - Uptodate

External causes are not directly related to brain function. These are psychological traumas, conflicts, wrong way of thinking or other illness. Judging by the available data, all this can also lead to changes in the brain, which can eventually lead to depression. But the likelihood of losing a loved one or experiencing serious stress at work or school does not exactly increase the vitamin.

Does vitamin D help prevent or treat depression

The answer to the question of whether vitamin D supplements help prevent depression came in 2020, when the results of a large five-year experiment were published. 18,353 people participated in it. At the time of the start of the experiment, all volunteers were about 50 years old, and none of them had symptoms of depression.

Effect of long-term vitamin D supplementation versus placebo on the risk of depression or clinically significant depressive symptoms - Journal of the American Medical Association

All these people were randomly divided into two groups. One group received a placebo once a day, and the second - the same type of tablets, which contained 2000 IU of vitamin D.

1000 IU of vitamin per day. That is, a too low dose of a vitamin cannot be called.

Russian Clinical Guidelines for Vitamin DPDF, 1.01 MB

But when the experiment ended, it turned out that people who drank the supplement had exactly the same risk of depression as those who did not take the supplement. The authors of the study concluded that there is no point in prescribing vitamin D supplements to prevent depression.

There is no definitive answer to the question of whether vitamin D supplements help cure depression, because there is not enough data to draw firm conclusions. But in 2014, a team of researchers analyzed data from six small clinical trials with 1,203 participants—and the results are not encouraging.

The effectiveness of vitamin D supplementation in adults with depression: a systematic review - Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism

All volunteers who participated in the experiments suffered from depression and took either placebo or vitamin D in dosages from 1500 to 7100 IU per day. The duration of admission was also different: from 8 weeks to 3-5 years. But in no study did people with depression who took the vitamin feel any relief.

How to detect vitamin D deficiency

Although vitamin D does not appear to cure or prevent depression, it is important for bone, muscle and nervous system health. Therefore, it is necessary to receive it in quantities sufficient for a healthy life.

Most of the vitamin D is synthesized directly in our skin under the influence of sunlight, and the rest we get from food. There is a lot of vitamin D in seafood and animal foods - in fatty sea fish, red meat, liver, egg yolks.

British Guidelines for Vitamin D - NHS Bulletin

Residents of northern latitudes get less sun than southerners, and most of the inhabitants of our country also rarely eat seafood, as they live far from the sea. Therefore, experts from the Russian Ministry of Health believe that our compatriots are deficient in vitamin D and it makes sense for all Russians to take vitamin D supplements.

At the same time, healthy people who plan to take vitamin D for prevention do not need to take tests for the content of this vitamin in the blood. The supplement in the recommended doses can be taken as such.

Vitamin D testing is only needed for people diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency, that is, those who take a high dose supplement as a medicine. In this situation, tests help control the dosage of the vitamin.

This is very important: people who take more than 60,000 IU per day are at risk of poisoning.

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