Low vitamin D levels linked to depression
As we have extensive covered on this blog, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a variety of health problems, from cardiovascular disease to cancer. Now, a recent study has connected the nutrient to depression, showing that vitamin D levels can predict patients' depressive symptoms.
The study, published in March in Psychiatry Research, involved 185 female undergraduate students living in the Pacific Northwest. Their vitamin D3 levels were measured regularly over a four-week period, and each week they were evaluated on the Center of Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale (CES-D). Thirty-four to 41 percent of the participants reported depressive symptoms during the study period, and up to 46 percent were deficient in vitamin D.
The researchers discovered that participants' vitamin D3 levels corresponded significantly with their depressive symptoms, so much so that their symptoms could be predicted from looking at the vitamin levels. The only other factor measured in the study to influence depressive symptoms on the same scale was use of antidepressant medications.
Since vitamin D supplementation is so simple and cheap, the researchers recommend it despite the relatively small scale of the study. "Given the lifespan health risks associated with insufficiency, supplementation is warranted whether or not the modest role of vitamin D in depression observed here generalizes more broadly," they wrote.
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