Low Vitamin D Levels Associated with Depression

Low vitamin D levels are associated with an elevated risk of depression, researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have found.

Low vitamin D levels are associated with an elevated risk of depression, researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have found.

The researchers looked at 12,594 participants in the Cooper Center Longitudinal Center whose vitamin D levels and depression levels according to the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale were measured between late 2006 and late 2010. They found that participants with low levels of vitamin D had an increased risk of depression, especially for those with a prior history of depression. Among those with such a prior history, high vitamin D levels corresponded to a 10% reduction in risk of depression.

“These findings suggest that primary care patients with a history of depression may be an important target for assessment of vitamin D levels,” the researchers write in the study abstract.

The study, which was published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, may help settle the debate surrounding smaller studies that have yielded conflicting results on the question of whether vitamin D and depression are linked. Nonetheless, scientists have not determined whether low levels of vitamin D contribute to the development of depression or whether the disorder itself lowers vitamin D levels. It is thought that vitamin D may affect neurotransmitters, inflammatory markers, and other factors, which could help explain its relationship with depression.