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