After reviewing data gathered during a four-year study involving nearly 12,600 participants, researchers have reported a clear link between low levels of vitamin D and depression. A team from UT Southwestern Medical Center and the Cooper Institute found that higher levels of vitamin D were associated with a significantly decreased risk of depression, particularly among individuals with a history of the illness.
The opposite proved true as well: low levels of “D” were linked to symptoms of depression, again particularly among those who had a history of depression. The researchers suggested that, based on these findings, doctors may want to screen depressed patients for vitamin D levels and, perhaps, screen patients with low levels of “D” for depression.
The study did not investigate whether taking vitamin D supplements relieved depression, nor did the researchers determine whether low levels of “D” contribute to depression or whether depression somehow leads to low levels of “D”. However, they noted that vitamin D may affect neurotransmitters, inflammatory markers and other factors that could explain the link to depression.
The study, the largest of its kind, was published in the November 2011 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.