DepressionVitamin D levels

One way vitamin D reduces the risk of depression is by reducing the risk of diseases for which depression is one of the side effects. Such diseases include cancer1, cardiovascular disease2 and multiple sclerosis3.

Increased inflammation from proinflammatory cytokines seems to be a risk factor for depression. Interleukin 6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) concentrations are elevated in depression4 5 6.

Vitamin D reduces inflammation from cytokines by shifting cytokine production from T-helper 1 (Th1) proinflammatory cytokines such as IL=6 to Th2 cytokines7 8. Vitamin D also reduces TNF-alpha concentrations9.

The role of vitamin D deficiency in psychiatric disorders including depression is discussed in a pair of reviews by Humble10 and Humble et al11.

Page last edited: 06 May 2011


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  2. Sher, Y. Lolak, S. Maldonado, J. R. The impact of depression in heart disease. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2010 Jun; 12 (3): 255-64.
  3. Paparrigopoulos, T. Ferentinos, P. Kouzoupis, A. Koutsis, G. Papadimitriou, G. N. The neuropsychiatry of multiple sclerosis: focus on disorders of mood, affect and behaviour. International review of psychiatry. 2010; 22 (1): 14-21.
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  8. Guillot, X. Semerano, L. Saidenberg-Kermanac'h, N. Falgarone, G. Boissier, M. C. Vitamin D and inflammation. Joint, bone, spine : revue du rhumatisme. 2010 Dec; 77 (6): 552-7.
  9. Zittermann, A. Frisch, S. Berthold, H. K. Gotting, C. Kuhn, J. Kleesiek, K. Stehle, P. Koertke, H. Koerfer, R. Vitamin D supplementation enhances the beneficial effects of weight loss on cardiovascular disease risk markers. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 May; 89 (5): 1321-7.
  10. Humble, M. B. Vitamin D, light and mental health. J Photochem Photobiol B. 2010 Nov 3; 101 (2): 142-9.
  11. Humble, M. B. Gustafsson, S. Bejerot, S. Low serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) among psychiatric out-patients in Sweden: relations with season, age, ethnic origin and psychiatric diagnosis. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2010 Jul; 121 (1-2): 467-70.