Vitamin D Can Help Curb Depression

In a recent study with women suffering from moderate to severe depression, the groups who received treatment for Vitamin D deficiency showed significant improvement in their medical situations.

According to Sonal Pathak, MD, an endocrinologist at Bayhealth Medical Center of Dover, Delaware, “Vitamin D may have an as-yet-unproven effect on mood and its deficiency may exacerbate depression. If this association is confirmed, it may improve how we treat depression.”

The study was unveiled during the Endocrine Society’s 94th Annual Meeting held in Houston, Texas. Here, Dr. Pathak presented the research results after the three women, aged from 42 to 66, were diagnosed with clinical depression and were medicating with antidepressants. The three women were also being treated for one of two metabolic conditions, Type 2 diabetes or hypothyroidism. These women also had risk factors for vitamin D deficiency. These can be attributed to low intake of the vitamin as well as poor sun exposure. To determine such, the three subjects had undergone a 25-hydroxyvitamin D blood test.

All three women registered low levels of vitamin D, between 8.9 to 14.5 nanograms per milliliter. When individuals register below 21 ng/mL, they are deemed deficient as normal levels are set at 30 ng/mL according to the Endocrine Society. The women were prescribed oral vitamin D replacement medication between eight to twelve weeks and their vitamin D levels were increased to normal levels. The women ranged between 32 to 38 ng/mL.

After the treatment, the three women related improvements in their depression according to the Beck Depression Inventory. This is a twenty one question survey that measures the level of sadness and depression of an individual. Scoring between 0 to 9 would be minimal depression. A 10 to 18 is considered as mild depression, 19 to 29 is moderate depression and a score between 30 to 63 means severe depression.

One of the three women improved their depression score from 32 to 12, which is a drop from severe to mild depression. Another one of the women scored from 26 to an eight, showing only minimal symptoms of depression. The third patient’s score of 21 improved to 16, showing mild depression.

Still, other studies have indicated that vitamin D levels have an effect on both mood and depression. There is still a need for a large, randomized controlled clinical studies to prove if there is a cause and effect relationship.

Dr. Pathak further added, “Screening at-risk depressed patients for vitamin D deficiency and treating it appropriately may be an easy and cost effective adjunct to mainstream therapies for depression.”

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