The sunshine vitamin is required for health, but maybe not for depression.

A hypothesis is stated and then it is tested to prove or disprove it. Recently, a study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association ( that evaluated vitamin D supplementation to reduce depression in older people.

Study Scenario

It is assumed that older people suffer from more depression than younger people. And it is untreated. A few testimonial reports proposed that vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, might improve mood and reduce depression and anxiety.

Data from 18,353 American men and women were reviewed in studies investigating cardiovascular disease and cancer in older adults. It was thought that these thirteen randomized controlled trials could be used to evaluate the effect of vitamin D on depression in older adults. None of these participants had any clinical signs of depression as the study started.

Twelve of the studies found that vitamin D had no effect on depression. Four of the studies measured the vitamin D dosage (800 IUs/day) for over a year. One study assigned 2,000 IUs/day of vitamin D3 and a placebo for the control group. The participants were tracked for five years. 609 of the patients supplemented with vitamin D developed depression and 625 of the placebo patients developed signs of depression.

The studies relied on the participants to self-define their mood (and depression) as part of the study. I see several things wrong with studies like these. Self-reporting is not the best idea in the world. Would you report on yourself about having depression and anxiety? In today’s world, a medical doctor is obligated to treat symptoms that he or she is aware of. Declaring yourself depressed could lead to many future problems.

Vitamin D

The National Academy of Medicine states that healthy adults need only 600 IUs/day of vitamin D until they reach the age of 71, then they need 800 IUs/day. Taking supplements of vitamin D and not including any additional vitamin D the body is absorbing from the sun or food is not a good idea either.

If you want to know the condition of the patient’s vitamin D blood levels, then measure their vitamin D on a regular basis. Otherwise, you do not know where each patient is on vitamin D absorption. Tests are easy to do.–vitamin-d-deficiency/diagnosis-and-tests I have this test done annually.

Latitude has a lot to do with sunlight being absorbed into the body. Skin tone is another factor. The amount of skin exposed to the sun is a factor. The length of time is a factor. It is not easy to make an assessment for a patient in Miami and one in Spokane to have similar environmental opportunities to use daily sunlight for vitamin D production in the body.

Start with the Cause

Why would scientists leapfrog on other studies of cardiovascular disease to determine the effects of vitamin D on depression in older people? I research the human body at the cellular level looking for cause and effect relationships. Treat a symptom and you will always treat a symptom. You must understand and treat the cause of a problem to fix it.

Why not start this study by looking at the causes of depression in older adults? is a nicely written article by Harvard Health that goes into a lot of detail about the causes of depression. Reading through it I gleaned an additional thought of the interference of drugs that could cause depression.

If the scientists were studying the results of elderly patients and cardiovascular disease, would it have been a good idea to look at the medicines the patients were taking and determine if there were any contraindications based on medicine interference and mental issues? identifies mental health disorders (depression and anxiety) as a potential development after heart failure, stroke, or heart attack. Depression in older adults can have several causes, but I do not believe that vitamin D deficiency is one of them.

I often reference Dr. Perlmutter’s book, Grain Brain, when addressing depression, especially in children. Grains have a significant effect on brain operations. Grains can cause degenerative brain disorders (dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD, epilepsy, anxiety, migraines, and depression. also supports research into depression and grains.


Studies are done for many reasons. Some to prove a point. Others to disprove a point. Studies can be manipulated by dosage, length of time, and many other factors. I saw this headline about vitamin D and depression and laughed silently.

I have studied vitamin D for many years and do not remember reading anything about vitamin D deficiency and depression. It is not to say there are not any.,health%20in%20the%20pediatric%20population. has a link with vitamin D deficiency and mental illness but does not show causation of the deficiency to the general mental illness diseases. The levels defined in this article are truly in the severe vitamin D deficiency range.

Could other lifestyle factors or conditions be conducive to the development of mental illness? I am sure there are.

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin –



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