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Your Vitamin D Status Has An Impact On Your Mood, Says Recent Research

Lauren Del Turco, CPT
Author: Expert reviewer:
November 22, 2021
Lauren Del Turco, CPT
Written by
Lauren Del Turco, CPT
Lauren Del Turco, CPT is a freelance health and wellness writer, editor, and content strategist who covers everything from nutrition to mental health to spirituality.
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN
Expert review by
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN
mbg Vice President of Scientific Affairs
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN is Vice President of Scientific Affairs at mindbodygreen. She received her bachelor's degree in Biological Basis of Behavior from the University of Pennsylvania and Ph.D. in Foods and Nutrition from the University of Georgia.
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November 22, 2021

Though many people still equate vitamin D with bones (which is understandable considering that the sunshine vitamin is important for maintaining strong, healthy bones),* it'd be doing this powerhouse nutrient a true disservice to suggest its benefits start and end there.

In fact, supporting thyroid health and a healthy pregnancy, promoting balanced gut and immune function, and influencing brain development and function are just some of the many far-reaching functions we can now add to vitamin D's résumé.*

And, though the link between vitamin D and our mood and mental well-being is yet another credential that's not exactly a new concept, recent research confirms just how strong the scientific evidence we have on the sunshine vitamin and our mental wellness really is.*

The science on vitamin D & mood.

Throughout the last decade or so, the relationship between vitamin D and the brain has become a hot topic among scientists, with researchers identifying the presence of vitamin D receptors and metabolites throughout the brain1, which clearly suggests it has a role to play in both cognitive function and mood.*

Outside of the brain, science has also shown that vitamin D influences gut function and health, specifically by promoting beneficial bacteria and supporting the integrity of the gut lining.* And given what we know about the complex and deep relationship between gut health and mental well-being, this is surely not a connection to underestimate.

Given these findings, it's no surprise that a significant volume of research has looked into the link between vitamin D status (how low or high your vitamin D levels are in the blood) and mental well-being. A 2020 review2 highlights that numerous studies have identified that individuals with mood concerns often have lower vitamin D levels. Back in 2010, another paper3 called for more research on the use of vitamin D supplementation specifically for supporting our emotional health, calling it a "simple and cost-effective solution for many" with mood concerns.*

And though there's still some understanding to gain about all of the exact mechanisms that connect vitamin D and mental well-being, more recent findings propose that the sunshine vitamin's role in the regulation of melatonin and serotonin4, two hormones crucial for mood, is certainly part of it.* Preclinical research also reveals that vitamin D helps buffer the brain from oxidative stress5 and inflammatory pathways (e.g., cytokines).*

Now, a new systematic review of 15 studies published in the peer-reviewed journal Clinics6 furthers the case for the importance of vitamin D in mental well-being, calling out that a breadth of research shows consistent links between the fat-soluble nutrient and overall mood and feelings of anxiousness.* According to the researchers, current evidence gives us good reason to believe that increasing circulating vitamin D levels can have a notable impact on mood health, particularly in young people.* They also call out that having a vitamin D status of lower than 20 ng/ml (which is considered clinical deficiency, i.e., the situation for approximately one-third of American adults7!) contributes to the risk of suboptimal mental well-being.

The takeaway.

We already know that maintaining optimal vitamin D levels is important for a variety of aspects of our health—and the recent research on the sunshine vitamin on mood offers even more incentive to keep our intake in a good place.* Many experts suggest that a blood level of 50 ng/ml is the ideal place to be for circulating levels of vitamin D—and that a daily intake of at least 5,000 I.U. of vitamin D3 is often what it takes to get and stay there. This typically means that a daily vitamin D supplement, like mbg's vitamin D3 potency+, is a must.*

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.
Lauren Del Turco, CPT author page.
Lauren Del Turco, CPT

Lauren Del Turco, CPT is a freelance health and wellness writer, editor, and content strategist who covers everything from nutrition to mental health to spirituality. Del Turco is also an ACE-certified personal trainer. She graduated from The College of New Jersey with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing. When she’s not on deadline, you’ll find Del Turco hiking with her dogs, experimenting with new plant-based recipes, or curled up with a book and tea.