Opinion

Latimer: Vitamin D supplement won’t treat depression

Vitamin D has gained a lot of media attention in recent years as we learn its importance in many areas of health.

Deficiencies of this crucial vitamin are linked with cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, neurodegenerative disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cancer.

Some studies have also shown that low vitamin D levels can be associated with depression —so researchers took on the task of testing whether vitamin D supplementation could relieve depression symptoms.

Unfortunately, although the sunshine vitamin is of vital importance to us, the results of this recent study found that supplementing vitamin D had no effect on symptoms of depression.

This study, conducted at the University of Surrey in the UK, gathered information from 344 volunteers.

Of those, 230 had low serum vitamin D levels and 114 did not. Those with low vitamin D were randomly assigned to either receive 40,000IU of vitamin D for six months or placebo.

Depressive symptoms were evaluated during the course of the study.

At the outset, there were no differences between the placebo and vitamin D groups and those with low vitamin D were more depressed than those with high serum vitamin D levels.

After six months receiving vitamin D, there was no significant effect on depression symptoms compared to those receiving placebo.

Head researcher for the study said the results imply vitamin D deficiency may be the result of depression rather than the cause of it.

Although low vitamin D and depression do appear to be linked, we cannot go forward attempting to treat depression with vitamin D supplementation.

Still, doctors should be aware that depressed individuals are at an increased risk of vitamin D deficiency.

We still have a long way to go before we fully understand the ways in which vitamin D is linked to all areas of our health both mental and otherwise.

This study was the first clear negative result and more will be needed to further back up the findings.

In this particular study, six months may not have been a long enough treatment time frame for depression.

Also, since volunteers were taken from the general population, the majority had either no depression or only mild symptoms.

These were not clinically depressed patients.Another longer study on a more specific population could be helpful.

Meantime, there are effective treatments for depression, both pharmacological and not.

If you are experiencing depression, you don’t need to suffer in silence.

Speak with your doctor about available options.

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