Depressed? Check Your Vitamin D Levels


If you’re experiencing depression, recent research suggests that the key to relief may lie in vitamin D.

You know that the so-called sunshine vitamin is integral for maintaining strong bones and that it plays an important role in metabolism.  It is a precursor to many hormones and is integral in the proper functioning of your heart, lungs, and muscles.  Doctors and researchers are still working to understand the other ways vitamin D effects the body.  While it has long been suspected that vitamin D also plays a role in the cognition and mood, clinical evidence to confirm this hypothesis was scarce.  Now, mounting evidence suggests that vitamin D levels may be linked to depression.

A recent study  (1) of over 5,000 participants shows that people with higher vitamin D levels have a decreased risk of depression.  The study focused on Finnish men and women, spanning ages 30 – 79, and concluded that men and women of all ages with higher vitamin D serum levels in their blood had lower incidences of depression than their counterparts with similar demographics.  Interestingly, those who were divorced, had metabolic disorders, or had poorer diets particularly showed lower incidences of depression if their vitamin D levels were high.  In this study, higher Vitamin D levels also correlated to lower incidences of chronic disease and anxiety disorders.

In the United States, a study (2) also replicated these findings.  Looking at nearly 8,000 respondents to a health survey, doctors found that people from all demographics with vitamin D blood serum levels that were less than 50 nanomoles per liter were at an 85% increased risk of depression when compared to those with levels over 75 nanomoles per liter.

While this evidence seems extremely promising, the reasons for this correlation are not yet clearly understood.  The more vitamin D is studied, the more surprising its effects seem to be.  Scientists have found correlations between vitamin D deficiency and many conditions, from Parkinson’s to type 2 diabetes.  This suggests that the function of vitamin D is more complex than previously thought.  Some doctors are suggesting that vitamin D behaves more like a hormone than a traditional vitamin  (3) .

Besides depression, vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to the following serious health problems:

1. Dementia.

A 2014 study (4) published in the journal Neurology found that moderate-to-severe vitamin D deficiency in older adults may double the risk for some forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

2. Prostate cancer. A 2014 study (5) published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research found a link between low blood levels of vitamin D and aggressive prostate cancer in European-American and African-American men.

3. Erectile dysfunction. A 2014 study (6) published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that men with severe erectile dysfunction (ED) had significantly lower vitamin D levels than men with mild ED.

4. Heart disease. According to research (7) presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 63rd Annual Scientific Session, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to more severe cases of heart disease.

This could be a call for increased vitamin D supplementation.  While sunshine boosts vitamin D levels, the sun can be inconstant; during the winter months or in cloudy countries, the effects of the sun on vitamin D levels can be weak.  Supplementing with vitamin D may help with depression, though experts say further study is needed. And get the necessary daily amount through your diet is also a good choice. Vitamin D-rich foods (8) include :

1. Herring

Serving Size (1 fillet, or 143 grams), 306 IU of Vitamin D (51% DV), 290 calories.

2. White Mushrooms

Serving Size (1 ounce), 8 IU of Vitamin D (1% DV), 20 calories.

3. Whole Milk

Serving Size (1 cup), 124 IU of Vitamin D (21% DV), 160 calories.

4. Deli Ham

Serving Size (1 slice), 28 IU of Vitamin D (5% DV), 26 calories.

5. Cod Liver Oil

Serving Size (1 tsp), 450 IU of Vitamin D (75% DV), 41 calories.

6. Sushi

Serving Size (4 pieces), 14 IU of Vitamin D (2% DV), 130 calories.

7. Tofu

Serving Size (100 grams), 157 IU of Vitamin D (39% DV), 88 calories.

8. Swiss Cheese

Serving Size (1 slice), 6 IU of Vitamin D (1% DV), 106 calories.

9. Eggs

Serving Size (1 large egg), 44 IU of Vitamin D (7% DV), 102 calories.

10. Soy Milk

Serving Size (1 cup), 102 IU of Vitamin D (17% DV), 132 calories.

11. Caviar

Serving Size (1 tablespoon), 19 IU of Vitamin D (3% DV), 13 calories.

12. Canned Salmon

Serving Size (100 grams), 547 IU of Vitamin D (91% DV), 136 calories.

13. Salami

Serving Size (3 slices), 17 IU of Vitamin D (4% DV), 99 calories.

14. Shiitake Mushrooms

Serving Size (4 mushrooms), 20 IU of Vitamin D (3% DV), 180 calories.

15. Ricotta Cheese

Serving Size (1/2 cup),12 IU of Vitamin D (2% DV), 216 calories.

16. Sausage Links

Serving Size (8 ounces), 100 IU of Vitamin D (167% DV), 550 calories.

17. Mackerel

Serving Size (100 grams), 360 IU of Vitamin D (60% DV), 256 calories.

18. Oysters

Serving Size (6 medium oysters), 269 IU of Vitamin D (67% DV), 57 calories.

19. Orange Juice

Serving Size (1 cup), 100 IU of Vitamin D (17% DV), 120 calories.

20. Oatmeal

Serving Size (1 packet, 44 grams), 154 IU of Vitamin D (26% DV), 157 calories.

21. Canned Tuna

Serving Size (100 grams), 234 IU of Vitamin D (39% DV), 114 calories.

22. Vanilla Yogurt

Serving Size (1 cup), 115 IU of Vitamin D (19% DV), 208 calories.

23. Chocolate Milk

Serving Size (1 cup), 122 IU of Vitamin D (20% DV), 158 calories.

24. Pork Tenderloin

Serving Size (100 grams), 10 IU of Vitamin D (2% DV), 159 calories.

25. Cereal

Serving Size (1 cup, about 50 grams), 162 IU of Vitamin D (29% DV), 80 calories.

26. Beef Liver

Serving Size (100 grams), 49 IU of Vitamin D (8% DV), 150 calories.

27. Egg Yolk

Serving Size (yolk of 1 large egg), 37 IU of Vitamin D (6% DV), 54 calories.

28. Sardines

Serving Size (100 grams), 270 IU of Vitamin D (45% DV), 233 calories.

29. Catfish

Serving Size (1 fillet, about 159 grams), 795 IU of Vitamin D (133% DV), 178 calories.

30. Butter

Serving Size (1 stick), 9 IU of Vitamin D (2% DV), 102 calories.

31. Shrimp

Serving Size (3 ounces), 2 IU of Vitamin D (1% DV), 101 calories.

32. Portobello Mushrooms

Serving Size (1 cup diced), 384 IU of Vitamin D (64% DV), 22 calories.

33. Goat Cheese

Serving Size (1 ounce), 6 IU of Vitamin D (1% DV), 76 calories.

34. Sour Cream

Serving Size (1 tablespoon), 2 IU of Vitamin D (1% DV), 26 calories.

35. Sword Fish

Serving Size (3 ounces), 566 IU of Vitamin D (94% DV), 132 calories.

Resources:(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)

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Heidi Kristoffer
I am Heidi Kristoffer, as an expert on natural health and holistic medicine, I am willing to help people live happier capable lives by sharing my health opinions with others. I am good at writing topics such as: medicine, natural remedies, foods and mental health. I think living a simple and healthy life, including eating healthy, exercising regularly and positively thinking, is the best medicine.