Study shows limited link between depression and vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D that plays a vital role in keeping one’s bone healthy has often been associated with mental health problems. However, due to the inconsistency in research, it is quite difficult to state with certainty the role that vitamin D might or might not have in preventing or treating mental illnesses such as depression. As vitamin D levels may vary with seasonal changes, it may play a role in explaining a relationship between vitamin D deficiency and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

While previous researches have linked an insufficient dose of vitamin D with depression, a new research suggests that there is a limited association between depression and vitamin D deficiency. According to the study, the relationship between vitamin D3 supplements in younger patients suffering from vitamin D deficiency and depression remains unclear. The study was presented at the ENDO 2017, the Endocrine Society’s 99th annual meeting held in Orlando, Florida, from April 1-4, 2017.

Due to insufficient data clarifying association between vitamin D deficiency and depression in younger generation, a team of researchers led by Vinod Yalamanchili from the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center in Wyoming conducted a randomized study involving 198 young women (119 white and 79 black) with a vitamin D deficiency.

The participants with a mean age of 36.7 years were randomly assigned either to a daily placebo or to a 400, 800, 1600, or 2400 IU of vitamin D3 with added calcium supplements. In addition, to collect data on depressive symptoms at the beginning and the end of the study, the researchers also used the Geriatric Depression Scale-Long Form 30 (GDS-LF30). As per findings of the study, when compared, the depressive scores saw little change owing to different doses of vitamin D administered. The researchers observed that there were no changes in the GDS scores brought on by different doses of vitamin D at 12-month level.

“In our study, treatment with incremental doses of vitamin D3 400 IU/d through 2400 IU/d in vitamin D insufficient younger women did not improve depression scores,” said Yalamanchili. “In a previous 3-year study of 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D and 1-year study of 25 dihydroxyvitamin D in elderly women, there was no effect of treatment on GDS. It remains to be studied whether there is any effect of vitamin D3 supplementation in patients who have vitamin D insufficiency and depression,” he added.

Road to recovery

Known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble nutrient that helps in cell growth, benefits the immune function and keeps bones healthy and strong. While the primary source of this essential vitamin may be sunlight, it can also be consumed via dietary supplements and certain food items including salmon, fish liver oil and orange juice. In addition to physical symptoms such as aching bones and pain in muscles and joints, those suffering from vitamin D deficiency may experience emotional symptoms including forgetfulness, sadness, hopelessness, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, among others.

As compared to diagnosing a vitamin D deficiency, depression diagnosis may include a self-assessment questionnaire or a physical exam. While a diagnosis of vitamin D deficiency requires a blood test, there might be additional exams and lab tests to rule out any underlying symptoms.

While there have not been any conclusive studies, they often found people with low vitamin D levels at greater risk of depression, a major public health issue in the United States. For those suffering from any kind of mental disorders such as anxiety or depression, don’t hesitate to contact the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline to find the right line of treatment in one of the best mental health rehabilitation centers near you. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-653-8178 or chat online with experts to know the finest mental health facilities in the U.S. and start the journey to recovery today.