While vitamin D is known to be relevant for bone health, evidence has recently accumulated for an impact on mental health. To identify the potential benefits and limitations of vitamin D for mental health, an understanding of the physiology of vitamin D, the cut-off values for vitamin D deficiency and the current status of therapeutic trials is paramount. Results of a systematic PUBMED search highlight the association of vitamin D levels and mental health conditions. Here, we focus on children and adolescents studies as well as randomized controlled trials on depression in adults. 41 child and adolescent studies were identified including only 1 randomized controlled and 7 non-controlled supplementation trials. Overall, results from 25 cross-sectional studies as well as from 8 longitudinal studies suggest a role of vitamin D in the pathogenesis of mental disorders in childhood and adolescence. Findings from supplementation trials seem to support this hypothesis. However, randomized controlled trials in adults revealed conflicting results. Randomized controlled trials in childhood and adolescents are urgently needed to support the potential of vitamin D as a complementary therapeutic option in mental disorders. Study designs should consider methodological challenges, e.g., hypovitaminosis D at baseline, appropriate supplementation doses, sufficient intervention periods, an adequate power, clinically validated diagnostic instruments, and homogenous, well-defined risk groups.
Keywords: 25(OH)D; ADHD; Autism; Depression; Mental health; Vitamin D.