Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and the risk of depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis

J Nutr Health Aging. 2013;17(5):447-55. doi: 10.1007/s12603-012-0418-0.


Objective: No quantitative systematic review or meta-analysis of population-based epidemiological studies has been conducted to assess the association between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) levels and the risk of depression. This study aimed to summarize the current evidence from cross-sectional and prospective cohort studies that have evaluated the association between 25(OH)D levels and the risk of depression.

Methods: Relevant studies were identified by systematically searching the PubMed, EMBASE, Web of Science, and PsycINFO databases through April 2012. Cross-sectional and cohort studies that reported adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the association of interest were included. The reported risk estimates for 25(OH)D categories were recalculated, employing a comprehensive trend estimation from summarized dose-response data. A pooled OR was calculated separately for cross-sectional and cohort studies using random-effects models.

Results: In the meta-analysis, 25(OH)D levels were significantly inversely associated with depression in 5 of 11 case-control studies and 2 of 5 cohort studies. The pooled estimate of the adjusted OR of depression in 11 cross-sectional studies (n = 43,137) was 0.96 (95% CI = 0.94-0.99, I2 = 63%) for a 10 ng/ml increase in 25(OH)D levels. The 5 included cohort studies comprised 12,648 participants, primarily elderly individuals, whose serum 25(OH)D levels were measured, and 2,663 experienced depression events during follow-up. The pooled adjusted OR of depression was 0.92 (95% CI = 0.87-0.98, I2 = 50%) for a 10 ng/ml increase in 25(OH)D levels.

Conclusions: Our results indicate an inverse association between serum 25(OH)D levels and the risk of depression. Further studies are warranted to establish whether this association is causal.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Depression / blood
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / blood
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications*


  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D