Vitamin D has been shown to positively impact health on a variety of levels. It influences neurotransmitters, metabolic pathways, oxidative stress and markers of inflammation. Emerging research is demonstrating that vitamin D can also help improve mental health.

A 2015 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study featured in the Journal of Nutrition looked at vitamin D supplementation in 40 individuals between the age of 18 and 65 who were diagnosed with major depressive disorder. The patients either received a placebo or 50,000 IU capsule of vitamin D per week for eight weeks. The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) was used and fasting blood samples were taken at baseline and post intervention. Markers of oxidative stress, glucose metabolism and inflammation were also measured.

Eight weeks of weekly vitamin D supplementation increased serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations (+20.4 ug/L). BDI scores decreased in the vitamin D group compared to placebo (p=0.06). In addition, markers of oxidative stress and insulin resistance were significantly lower in the vitamin D group compared to placebo (p=0.04). Vitamin D did not affect serum hs-CRP concentrations.

Previous research has shown that vitamin D deficiency is linked to a higher risk of depression and suicide. Research has also shown that correcting this deficiency can improve patient outcomes. This analysis utilized patients with major depressive disorder, which can be difficult to treat and comes with high risk of co-morbidities such as diabetes and heart disease. In this study, vitamin D deficiency was corrected and symptoms improved when compared to placebo. From a clinical standpoint, vitamin D appears to be an effective intervention in a targeted patient population that struggles with decreased quality of life and increased risk of illness.

Sepehrmanesh Z, Kolahdooz F, Abedi F, et al. Vitamin D supplementation affects the Beck Depression Inventory, insulin resistance, and biomarkers of oxidative stress in patients with major depressive disorder: a randomized, controlled clinical trial. The Journal of Nutrition. 2015;Nov 15.


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