Low vitamin D levels may increase risk of depression

February 8, 2013

People with higher blood vitamin D concentrations may have a lower risk of developing depression, says a new study from UK.

The observational study analyzed blood vitamin D levels and mental issues, such as depression, anxiety, panic and phobia of 7,401 participants aged 45 (1). The study results showed that participants with vitamin D levels of at least 75 nmol/l had a 43% lower risk of depression compared to people with vitamin D levels lower than 25 nmol/l. In addition, the higher vitamin D levels were associated with a 67% lower risk of panic, compared to lower levels.

The researchers commented that the high burden of mental and behavioral disorders and concurrent high prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency (below 75 nmol/l) worldwide highlights the potential importance of these findings. Further studies would be required to replicate these findings, clarify causality and establish the most effective vitamin D status for maximum benefit. Results of earlier studies investigating a potential link between vitamin D status and symptoms of depression have been inconsistent. According to a review, vitamin D may affect proteins in the brain known to be directly involved in learning and memory, motor control, and possibly even maternal and social behavior (2).


  1. Maddock J. et al. Vitamin D and common mental disorders in mid-life: cross-sectional and prospective findings. Clinical Nutrition. Published online January 2013.
  2. McCann J. C. and Ames B. N. Is there convincing biological or behavioral evidence linking vitamin D deficiency to brain dysfunction? FASEB Journal. 2008; 22(4):982–1001.