CNS Drugs

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Potential Role of Vitamin D for the Management of Depression and Anxiety

  • Gleicilaine A. S. Casseb
  • Manuella P. Kaster
  • Ana Lúcia S. RodriguesEmail author
Leading Article


Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin, plays a role not only in calcium and phosphate homeostasis but also in several other functions, including cell growth and neuromuscular and immune function. The deficiency of vitamin D is highly prevalent throughout the world and has been suggested to be associated with an enhanced risk of major depressive disorder (MDD) and anxiety disorders. Therefore, vitamin D supplementation has been investigated for the prevention and treatment of these disorders. This review presents preclinical and clinical evidence of the effects of vitamin D supplementation in these disorders. Although preclinical studies provide limited evidence on the possible mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of vitamin D for the management of these disorders, most of the clinical studies have indicated that vitamin D supplementation is associated with the reduction of symptoms of depression and anxiety, particularly when the supplementation was carried out in individuals with an MDD diagnosis (of the 13 studies in which MDD diagnosis was established, 12 had positive results with vitamin supplementation). However, some heterogeneity in the outcomes was observed and might be associated with an absence of overt psychiatric symptoms in several studies, genetic polymorphisms that alter vitamin D metabolism and bioavailability, differences in the supplementation regimen (monotherapy, adjunctive therapy, or large bolus dosing), and levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25(OH)D) at baseline (individuals with low vitamin D status may respond better) and attained after supplementation. Additionally, factors such as sex, age, and symptom severity also need to be further explored in relation to the effects of vitamin D. Therefore, although vitamin D may hold significant potential for mental health, further preclinical and clinical studies are clearly necessary to better understand its role on mood/affect modulation.


Compliance with Ethical Standards


Dr. Rodrigues and Dr Manuella P. Kaster are “National Counsel of Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq)” research fellows. Their studies are supported by grants from CNPq and Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Ensino Superior (CAPES).

Conflict of interest

Gleicilaine A. S. Casseb, Manuella P. Kaster and Ana Lúcia S. Rodrigues have received no financial support or compensation from any individual or corporate entity over the past 3 years for research or professional service and have no personal financial holdings that could be perceived as constituting a potential conflict of interest.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry, Center for Biological SciencesUniversidade Federal de Santa CatarinaFlorianópolisBrazil

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