Data on Calcium and Mood

 This fascinating REPRINT outlines all known data on mood and calcium.  It is offered again here due to the exponential growth of readers on WellPostpartum Weblog.  Thank you to pioneering researcher Dr. Bonnie Kaplan for her work with perinatal mood issues.

Dr. Bonnie Kaplan of the University of Calgary and Alberta Children’s Hospital, in her paper Vitamins, Minerals and Mood compiled data on calcium and mood symptoms. Dr. Kaplan states, “Calcium imbalance caused by hyperparathyroidism has long been known to result in anxiety, depression, and cognitive dysfunction (Linder, Brimar, Granberg, Wetterberg, & Werner, 1988; Okamoto, Gerstein, & Obara,1997). One of the earliest articles proposing that disturbed calcium balances cause symptoms of mood disorders dates back to 1922 (Weston & Howard, 1922). In a review of 18 studies of patients with mood disorders, the majority showed abnormal intracellular calcium ion homeostasis, with some evidence that unipolar patients differed from those with bipolar (Helmeste & Tang, 1998).
“Depression in particular was “associated with elevated platelet serotonin-stimulated intracellular calcium mobilization” (Helmeste & Tang, 1998, p. 112). On the related topic of PMS, a review (Bendich, 2000) of calcium, magnesium, and Vitamin B6 concluded that the evidence in support of calcium supplementation for PMS symptom reduction was quite convincing. In the methodologically strongest study of this effect in 466 women (Thys-Jacobs, Starkey, Bernstein, & Tian, 1998), there was about a 50% reduction in PMS symptoms, including negative affect, in those women randomized to receive 1,200 mg calcium per day compared with a 30% reduction in those who received placebo. This daily dose is 50% higher than the recommended dose for healthy women, in which 800 mg per day is believed to be sufficient to reduce the risk of inadequacy in women from 16 years of age to menopause.

“Kamei et al. (1998) reported that 31 patients with major depression had significantly lower calcium concentrations in erythrocytes compared with controls. This was true regardless of whether the patients were in an active phase of depression (n=12) or in a remission (n=19). Michelson et al.’s (1996) study reported significantly decreased bone mineral density (measured at hip, spine, and radius) in 24 women with current major depressive disorders or with a past history of depression, compared with 24 normal women matched for age, body mass index, menopausal status, and race. This intriguing report raises questions about long-latency effects of calcium absorption in relation to mood disorders, a topic that probably warrants additional research. The causality of this association could also be bidirectional: Perhaps
low calcium causes poor bone mineral density and depression, but of course depression causes poor maintenance of health behaviors, such as exercise and proper mineral supplementation.” (Kaplan, 2007)

Dr. Kaplan goes on to expound on the bidirectionality of these effects to illustrate the potenial impact of Vitamin D on calcium levels.  Sufficient calcium is dependent on vitamin D and deficiency of vitamin D is a significant concern for physical health (Vieth, 2004).  Many other researchers are currently focusing on the long misunderstood phenomena of vitamin D deficiency.  Vitamin D is now said to be a hormone; not actually a vitamin and many people are profoundly deficient.  Again, this bidirectionality may come into play in the question of calcium and vitamin D.  Depression could be caused by, or exacerbated by a lack of key minerals.  And, lifestyle can influence nutritional status.





Bendich, A. (2000). The potential for dietary supplements to reduce premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 19, 3-12.Helmeste, D. M., & Tang, S. W. (1998). The role of calcium in the etiology of the affective disorders. Japanese Journal of Pharmacology, 77,

Kamei, K., Tabata, O., Muneoka, K., Muraoka, S. I., Tomiyoshi, R., & Takigawa, M. (1998). Electrolytes in erythrocytes of patients with depressive disorders. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 52,529-533.

Kaplan, B., Crawford, S., Field, C., Simpson, J. S., (2007) Vitamins, Minerals and Mood. American Psychological Association-Psych Bulletin, Vol. 133, No. 5, 747-760.

Linder, J., Brimar, K., Granberg, P. O., Wetterberg, L., & Werner, S.(1988). Characteristic changes in psychiatric symptoms, cortisol and melatonin but not prolactin in primary hyperparathyroidism. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 78, 32-40.

Michelson, D., Stratakis, C., Hill, L., Reynolds, J., Galliven, E., Chrousos, G., et al. (1996). Bone mineral density in women with depression. New England Journal of Medicine, 335, 1176-1181.

Okamoto, T., Gerstein, H. C., & Obara, T. (1997)Psychiatric symptoms,bone density and non-specific symptoms in patients with mild hypercalcemia due to primary hyperparathyroidism: A systematic overview of the literature. Endocrine Journal, 44, 367-374.

Thys-Jacobs, S., Starkey, P., Bernstein, D., & Tian, J1998). Calcium carbonate and the premenstrual syndrome: Effects on premenstrual and menstrual symptoms. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 179, 444-452.

Vieth, R. (2004). Why the optimal requirement for Vitamin D3 is probably much higher than what is officially recommended for adults. Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 89-90, 575-579
Weston, P., & Howard, M. (1922). The determination of sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium in the blood and spinal fluid of patients suffering from manic depressive insanity. Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry 8, 179-183.


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