Can Vitamin D Levels Predict Depression?
You probably know that vitamin D plays an important role in the human body, helping to absorb calcium and promote bone growth. It’s also possible that you have heard that Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a variety of health problems, including rickets, breast cancer, heart disease, and weight gain. But what you most likely haven’t heard is that in addition to these serious issues, certain experts believe that vitamin D deficiency may contribute to clinical depression.
Vitamin D and Depression
A recent study may confirm the link between low serum levels of vitamin D and depressive symptoms.  The study assessed 185 healthy young women over four weeks, measuring their vitamin D levels and symptoms of depression. Researchers found that nearly half of the participants had vitamin D deficiency, and over a third had symptoms of clinically significant depressive symptoms.
When examining data from the study, investigators took factors such as season, body mass index, diet, exercise, and race into account. They found that lower vitamin D levels across the month-long period predicted symptoms of depression, and the only other factor that could predict such symptoms was the use of antidepressants.
Vitamin D: A Potent Fighter for Depression?
Though more research is needed to establish and understand the relationship between vitamin D and depression, the recent study certainly strengthens widespread suspicions that the two are linked. But what does this really mean?
No one is saying that vitamin D should be used to replace antidepressants or other types of depression treatments, but there is certainly no harm in using it as a supplement to such treatments as it is relatively inexpensive and low-risk. Whatever role vitamin D plays in depression, it’s highly advisable to maintain a healthy level of vitamin D regardless to promote bone growth and reduce the risk of other health problems.
- David C. R. Kerr, et al. Association between vitamin D levels and depressive symptoms in young healthy adult women. Psychiatry Research. February 25, 2015. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2015.02.016.