Vitamin D and depression

J Affect Disord. 2017 Jan 15:208:56-61. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2016.08.082. Epub 2016 Oct 11.


Objective: To examine whether vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency is associated with depression and whether vitamin D supplementation is an effective treatment for depression.

Method: Empirical papers published in recent years were identified using three search engines and online databases - PubMed, Google Scholar and Cochrane Database. Specific search terms used were 'vitamin D', 'depression' and 'treatment' and articles were selected that examined the association between vitamin D deficiency/insufficiency and depression, vitamin D supplementation and Vitamin D as a treatment for depression. Our review weighted more recent studies (from 2011), although also considered earlier publications.

Results: Empirical studies appear to provide increasing evidence for an association between vitamin D insufficiency and depression, and for vitamin D supplementation and augmentation in those with clinical depression who are vitamin D deficient. Methodological limitations associated with many of the studies are detailed.

Limitations: Articles were restricted to those in the English language while publication bias may have weighted studies with positive findings.

Conclusions: There remains a need for empirical studies to move beyond cross-sectional designs to undertake more randomised controlled longitudinal trials so as to clarify the role of vitamin D in the pathogenesis of depression and its management, as well as to establish whether currently suggested associations are clinically significant and distinctive.

Keywords: Augmentation; Depression; Supplementation; Treatment; Vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Databases, Factual
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Empirical Research
  • Humans
  • Mood Disorders / etiology
  • Seasons
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / drug therapy


  • Vitamin D