Vitamin D and the occurrence of depression: causal association or circumstantial evidence?

Nutr Rev. 2009 Aug;67(8):481-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00220.x.


While recent laboratory-based studies have substantially advanced our understanding of the action of vitamin D in the brain, much is still unknown concerning how vitamin D relates to mood. The few epidemiological studies of vitamin D and depression have produced inconsistent results and generally have had substantial methodological limitations. Recent findings from a randomized trial suggest that high doses of supplemental vitamin D may improve mild depressive symptoms, but important questions persist concerning how vitamin D may affect monoamine function and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis response to stress, whether vitamin D supplementation can improve mood in individuals with moderate-to-severe depression, and whether vitamin D sufficiency is protective against incident depression and recurrence. At this time, it is premature to conclude that vitamin D status is related to the occurrence of depression. Additional prospective studies of this relationship are essential.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Biogenic Monoamines
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Depression* / drug therapy
  • Depression* / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Premenstrual Syndrome
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / physiology
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications
  • Vitamin D* / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin D* / physiology


  • Biogenic Monoamines
  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Vitamin D