Many foods like fish, eggs and fortified milk contain healthy amounts of Vitamin D. You can also get vitamin D by spending time in the sun. While the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and bone-weakening conditions like rickets and osteomalacia has been common knowledge for decades, recent evidence points to a potential link between vitamin D deficiency and depression.
A Conclusive Link Remains Elusive
Vitamin D deficiency may play a role in several types of other physical conditions as well as mental health conditions like depression, according to VitaminDCouncil.org. Their website discusses the rise of depression over the past 100 years concurrent with decreasing Vitamin D levels. The site also discusses the role of vitamin D’s interactions with brain neurotransmitters involved in major depression. And while present studies have not been able to directly link vitamin D deficiency with conditions like major depression, many researchers are in agreement that further research is warranted.
A Link With Other Conditions With a Depression Component
Although scientists have not yet tied vitamin D deficiency directly to major depression, there appears to be a relationship between the vitamin and diseases with a depression component like seasonal affective disorder and fibromyalgia. According to MayoClinic.com, scientists speculate that seasonal affective disorder (SAD) may occur during winter months when sun exposure is more limited. Although one study indicated that vitamin D treatments helped SAD more than traditional light therapy, more studies are necessary to draw definitive conclusions. Likewise, an April 2007 Clinical Rheumatology study indicated a possible link between vitamin D and fibromyalgia also warranting further study. In this study, researchers from Belfast, Ireland’s Musgrave Park Hospital found low levels of vitamin D in fibromyalgia patients.
The U.S. Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences recommends everyone under the age of 50 receive five micrograms or 200 IU of vitamin D every day. Adults between 50 and 70 need 10 micrograms or 400 IU, and those between 70 need 15 micrograms or 600 IU.
If you are over the age of 70, are obese or avoid sun exposure, you may be at risk for a vitamin D deficiency according to the MayoClinic.com. You may also be at risk if you have a condition that interferes with fat absorption like cystic fibrosis, or an inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease.
If you consume a vitamin D rich diet and get out in the sun as little as ten minutes a day, you are likely doing enough to prevent a vitamin D deficiency according to MayoClinic.com. If you are not, additional dietary supplements may be necessary to meet your daily recommended vitamin D intake.