Updated on February 19, 2015
Vitamin D deficiency, depression linked in international study
Vitamin D deficiency is not just harmful to physical health — it also might impact mental health, according to a team of researchers that has found a link between seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, and a lack of sunlight.
Vitamin D deficiency has many linked to many serious diseases like auto immune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, alopaecia, and conditions that are a reaction of the immune system to external interefernces, like asthma, bronchitis, allergies etc. Vitamin D could have a regulative role in the development of SAD as well. This disorder is believed to affect up to 10 percent of the population, depending upon geographical location, and is a type of depression related to changes in season. People with SAD have the same symptoms every year, starting in fall and continuing through the winter months.
An international research partnership between UGA, the University of Pittsburgh and the Queensland University of Technology in Australia reported the finding in the November 2014 issue of the journal Medical Hypotheses.
Stewart and Michael Kimlin from QUT’s School of Public Health and Social Work conducted a review of more than 100 leading articles and found a relationship between vitamin D and seasonal depression. Stewart said, based on the team’s investigations, vitamin D was likely to be a contributing factor in seasonal depression. Vitamin D is also involved in the synthesis of serotonin and dopamine within the brain, both chemicals linked to depression, according to the researchers. low levels of dopamine and serotonin are linked to depression, therefore it is logical that there may be a relationship between low levels of vitamin D and depressive symptoms.
Vitamin D levels varied according to the pigmentation of the skin. People with dark skin often record lower levels of vitamin D, according to the researchers.
Kimlin, who heads QUT’s National Health and Medical Research Council Centre for Research Excellence in Sun and Health, said adequate levels of vitamin D were essential in maintaining bone health, with deficiency causing osteomalacia in adults and rickets in children. Vitamin D levels of more than 50 nanomoles per liter are recommended by the U.S. Institute of Medicine.