Vitamin D may reduce depression for women: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Vitamin d

Vitamin D may reduce depression for women: Study
Increased intakes of vitamin D from foods but not supplements are associated with reduced prevalence of depression for postmenopausal women, says a new study.

The prevalence of depressive symptoms was 21% lower for women with daily vitamin D intakes exceeding 800 International Units (IU) per day, compared with intakes of less than 100 IU per day, according to findings published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition​.

The study’s findings are based on data from 81,189 participants of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) Observational Study.

Led by Harvard’s JoAnn Manson, the researchers add that the apparent benefits of vitamin D were primarily associated with dietary intakes of the sunshine vitamin, with supplemental vitamin D intakes producing “less consistent”​ results.

The researchers called for future studies to establish if boosting vitamin levels could prevent or treat depression, or both.

The vitamin

Vitamin D refers to two biologically inactive precursors - D3, also known as cholecalciferol, and D2, also known as ergocalciferol. The former, produced in the skin on exposure to UVB radiation (290 to 320 nm), is said to be more bioactive.

Both D3 and D2 precursors are hydroxylated in the liver and kidneys to form 25- hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), the non-active 'storage' form, and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25(OH)2D), the biologically active form that is tightly controlled by the body.

While our bodies do manufacture vitamin D on exposure to sunshine (UV-B radiation with a wavelength between 290 and 315 nm), the levels in some northern countries are so weak during the winter months that our body makes no vitamin D at all, meaning that dietary supplements and fortified foods are seen by many as the best way to boost intakes of vitamin D.

Study details

Dr Manson and her co-workers performed a cross-sectional and prospective investigation of vitamin D intakes and depression. Vitamin D intakes were measured at the start of the study using food-frequency and supplement-use questionnaires, while symptoms of depression were tested using a well-established scale and assessing the use of antidepressant medication.

Results showed that, in addition to the general 21% reduction in prevalence of depressive symptoms for intakes over 800 IU, when the researchers limited they calculations to women who were depression-free at the start of the study, a 20% lower prevalence of depression was observed for intakes of vitamin D from foods over 400 IU.

“Overall, our findings support a potential inverse association of vitamin D, primarily from food sources, and depressive symptoms in postmenopausal women,”​ they concluded.

Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.017384
“Vitamin D intake from foods and supplements and depressive symptoms in a diverse population of older women”
Authors: E.R. Bertone-Johnson, S.I. Powers, L. Spangler, R.L. Brunner, Y.L. Michael, J.C. Larson, A.E. Millen, M.N. Bueche, E. Salmoirago-Blotcher, S. Liu, S. Wassertheil-Smoller, J.K. Ockene, I. Ockene, J.E. Manson

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Food Sources

Posted by Myrtle McCulloch,

Vitamin D is an "additive" only in skim milk. By the process of fortification, the vitamin must be added to make up for that which is lost when skimming the fat from whole or low fat milk. In milk that has fat in it the vitamin is a naturally occurring nutrient. As a fat soluble vitamin, it is found in animal fats.

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vitamin d3

Posted by jai,

Vitamin D3 is believed to play a role in controlling the immune system possibly reducing one’s risk of cancer and autoimmune diseases, increasing neuro-muscular function and decreasing falls, improving mood, protecting the brain against toxic chemicals, and potentially reducing pain.

Vitamin D3 is both a vitamin and a hormone. It acts as a vitamin when it binds with calcium for proper absorption. Humans cannot digest calcium without adequate amounts of Vitamin D3. The most common reasons for Vitamin D3 deficiency in the United States relates to lack of exposure to sunlight and infrequent consumption of cold water fish such as wild salmon, mackerel & sardines. A standard blood chemistry panel will provide your doctor with your levels of vitamin D3. The test is called 25(OH)D. The existing guidelines state that a deficiency is anything below 50nmol/l, but recent studies show that 80 nmol/l is needed to keep healthy bones and enable vitamin D to perform its other roles in the body. Foods have been supplemented with Vitamin D, but this has not resulted in an overall increase in Vitamin D levels. This is likely because food and supplement manufacturers rely on an inexpensive form of synthetic Vitamin D called “ergocalciferol”- a form of Vitamin D2.

If you have bone loss or osteoporosis, spend 20 minutes daily in the sunshine with 40% of your skin surface exposed. Morning sun is best; Don’t allow your skin to burn. Tanning Beds do not provide Vitamin D3. Eat foods high in Vitamin D3 including Cod liver oil, fortified milk, salmon, mackerel, & sardines, egg yolks, beef liver. If you take Vitamin D supplements make sure it is Vitamin D3 and not D2. Take Vitamin D3 supplements with food. I usually recommend Vitamin D3 2000iu-5000iu/ day depending on lab levels.

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food sources

Posted by RG,

Vitamin D from cereals and milk is really just a food additive. Women who eat fish are getting vitamin D but also omega 3. The study does not address these two issues.

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