Vitamin D’s role in mental health may represent its pivotal position as a neuroimmune hormonal messenger. Some clinicians, including myself, question the cause of epidemic levels of vitamin D deficiency and suggest that toxic exposures such as pesticides and chronic infection as well as suppressed cholesterol may all be contributing to the association of low vitamin D with chronic illness.
In the pregnant and postpartum patient, vitamin D deficiency has been associated with depression and poor obstetrical outcomes including low birth weight, maternal preeclampsia, hypertension, and gestational diabetes.
In this prospective study, levels of 25(OH)-vitamin D were assessed during pregnancy at 18 weeks gestation from 796 pregnant women, and depressive symptoms were assessed at 3 days postpartum. They found an inverse, predictive relationship between levels of vitamin D and depression as measured by the EDPS.
Supplementation up to doses of 4000IU have been studied in pregnancy, however, the synergistic role of fat soluble vitamins (A, D, K, E) as they occur in foods such as liver is often overlooked.
I discuss the importance of vitamin A as a complement to vitamin D in pregnancy, in this Huffington Post article where I recommend grass fed liver and/or cod liver oil in moderate amounts (2 times per week) during pregnancy and postpartum.