There is some evidence that a vitamin D deficiency and depression are linked. Much of the evidence is anecdotal yet it is compelling. The exact reasons for this link are not completely understood, but there are a few leading theories.
Vitamin D is essential for the function of certain neurotransmitters
The most prevalent is that the enzymes that produce many of the neurotransmitters in the brain such as serotonin and epinephrine are dependent upon vitamin D to function properly. These neurotransmitters are key components in the affectation of mood in the human mind.
Most front line depression medications, such as Paxil and Zoloft, are designed to directly affect the levels of absorption of these neurotransmitters in the brain. A vitamin D deficiency could theoretically accomplish the same task by inhibiting the natural processes of the neurotransmitters, causing depression.
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with alcoholism
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, so it is no surprise that many people afflicted with alcoholism also suffer from major depression. But another factor that may exacerbate depression in alcoholics is the fact that vitamin D and other minerals are flushed from the body as it eliminates alcohol.
This may lead to a chronic vitamin D deficiency in many people who are heavy drinkers. People who suffer from depression and also are alcohol or other substance abusers may find that their depression improves by regularly taking vitamin D supplements.
Other anecdotal evidence that links vitamin D to depression
Some other mental health issues such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, and schizophrenia have been directly or indirectly linked to lower levels of vitamin D. Some people feel that it is reasonable to conclude that vitamin D is an important component to good mental health in general, not just depression.
Sufferers of depression report improved mood with vitamin D supplements
Many people who suffer from depression report improvement in their symptoms when they take vitamin D supplements. Not all people’s depression responds to vitamin D. It is a matter of trial and error to see if it works for you. The greatest improvement is normally seen in people who already have a naturally low level of vitamin D in their bodies. Simply loading up on vitamin D for people who already have adequate levels is not recommended.