Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is a fat-soluble nutrient required by everyone. In fact, in the world of nutrition, it’s one of the most underrated vitamins for depression out there.
We get Vitamin D primarily from the sun, but because of busier lifestyles and a lack of sufficient sun exposure, many people discover later on that they have a deficiency(1).
Depression has been scientifically linked(2) to cases of Vitamin D deficiency and low levels of this nutrient have been associated with active mood disorders too.
Reviews of clinical trials and observational studies also concluded that amongst various vitamins for depression, Vitamin D has a correlation with poor cognitive and emotional health.
However, there is no conclusive evidence that suggests that only taking Vitamin D for depression via pills or supplements helps.
Factors That Influence Your Vitamin D Levels
Studies have found that the Vitamin D receptors in the brain(3) lie in the same area as the brain receptors that were linked to depression. When Vitamin D levels plummeted in subjects, their rates of depression increased.
Although Vitamin D is not the sole nutrient responsible for depression since a lack of B-vitamins, zinc, folate, and others also play a role, it does, however, play a key part in depression and its treatment.
Some of the biggest reasons why people experience a vitamin D deficiency are:
1. Life in the Northern Latitudes
The Northern latitudes, especially parts of the Northern United States don’t get enough sunshine throughout the year. These parts are prone to cases of Vitamin D deficiency.
2. Having Dark Skin
Dark skin tends to absorb Vitamin D at a much slower rate than those who tend to have white skin. This means you have to spend a lot more time in the sun to get the same amount of Vitamin D compared to someone who is white-skinned. There was a 2006 study in the Journal of Nutrition, which found evidence of how African-Americans had lower levels of Vitamin D compared to other Americans
3. Being Overweight or Obese
If you’re overweight or obese, then chances are you’re eating a lot of processed foods and not getting enough nutrients (or the right kind at least). This could lead to a Vitamin D deficiency in the long run.
People who are in the older age groups tend to have lower levels of Vitamin D compared to their younger counterparts. This is because older people tend to spend less time in the sun and also have diets that are lacking in Vitamin D-rich foods.
[Also Read: Common Supplements to Treat Depression]
Why Should You Consider Using Vitamin D Supplements?
Dark-skinned people have a tough time synthesizing Vitamin D, according to research. And although white-skinned people have higher levels of Vitamin D, they use sunblock which inhibits Vitamin D synthesis in the body.
Your internal organs and skin lose their ability to use Vitamin D for depression and treating other problems when you’re already deficient. And deficiency is an issue that can take months to reverse.
This is why taking Vitamin D supplements of 600 IU and above are recommended to everyone. For those who are adults over 70, the recommendation for Vitamin D doses for depression goes up to 1,000 IU a day, in case they are deficient.
If you choose to take supplements, make sure to take your supplement with a healthy fat like avocados or coconuts since Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient.
It doesn’t matter if you have Vitamin D deficiency or not. It’s always a good idea to start eating the right foods and make sure you stay in the pink of your health. And since you’re looking to improve your mood naturally, adding Vitamin D-rich foods to your diet is the answer.
[Read: Probiotics for Depression]
Here are some frequently asked questions about Vitamin D doses for depression and supplementation.
1. How Do I Know I’m Vitamin-D Deficient?
The best way to find out if you have low Vitamin D for depression is to get a blood test done.
2. How Long Does It Take for Vitamin D to Work for Depression?
It can take months to years for vitamin D to work for depression. However, according to medical research(4), you can start feeling the difference immediately when you take over-the-counter doses of 5,000 IU to 10,000 IU, especially if you have severe depression.
3. How Much Vitamin D Should I Take?
The general guidelines are 400 to 800 IU/day or 10 to 20 micrograms. However, research suggests that higher intakes of 1,000 IU to 4,000 IU a day is needed to maintain optimal blood levels.
4. What Type of Vitamin D Do I Need?
The best supplements to go for are ones that have Vitamin D3 and not D2. D3 naturally occurs in the body, that’s why.
5. Can You Take Too Much Vitamin D?
Yes, Vitamin D overdose is a real thing. That’s when toxicity occurs and symptoms like irregular heartbeat, nausea, and loss of appetite show up. Talk to your doctor to get prescribed the correct dosage based on your bloodwork analysis.