Vitamin D Newsletter


Major Depression

Jacob from California writes:

Dr. Cannell: I've been on anti-depressants for years and have never been able to get off them. Last November, I started taking 5,000 units of vitamin D every day. By January, I was able to stop my Lexapro. I feel better than I have for twenty years. Has anyone proved that vitamin D helps depression?

Dr. Cannell replies:

No, it has not. Although I'm glad you are feeling better, there are no studies in the literature showing vitamin D effectively treats major depression, only that it improves mood or well-being, an important difference. However, there are some compelling reasons to think it might help major depression.

Dr. Reinhold Vieth found 4,000 units of cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) a day was better than 600 units in improving well-being in endocrinology outpatients. Two studies using 800 units a day to improve mood gave conflicting results, but neither of these studies had patients with major depression. Lastly, low levels of vitamin D were associated with high depression scores in a recent Tromso Study.

As a psychiatrist, I find vitamin 5,000 units of vitamin D a day cures some patients with major depression who have low vitamin D levels but has no effect on others. In the end, I predict vitamin D deficiency (levels less than 50 ng/mL) will be found to be one of many causes of major depression, though an important one.

Page last edited: 17 August 2010