Is it possible that vitamin D benefits depression? A new study says it does, and raises the intriguing possibility that boosting blood levels of this crucial vitamin might help lift or even prevent depression in many.
The study, conducted by by VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, speculated that depression may be the consequence of inadequate levels of the "sunshine vitamin". Noting that about 13 percent of older individuals have symptoms of depression, the Amsterdam study cited numerous underlying causes of D vitamin deficiency among the elderly, including less sun exposure as a result of decreased outdoor activity, and different housing or clothing habits.
Research shows correlation between low vitamin D and high parathyroid levels in depressed people
The Amsterdam study correlated two important facts: one, inadequate levels of D vitamin cause an increase in parathyroid hormone levels, and two, overactive parathyroid glands are frequently accompanied by symptoms of depression. It was further noted that the depression symptoms disappear after the restoration of adequate D vitamin levels.
The Amsterdam research, which tracked over 1200 people aged 65 to 95, showed that blood levels of the vitamin were 14 percent lower in individuals with major and minor depression compared with non-depressed participants.
It was also revealed that, in comparison with non-depressed people, patients with minor depression had five percent higher parathyroid hormone thyroid levels and those with major depressive disorders but levels of the hormone were a surprising 33 percent higher in those with major depressive disorder.
Vitamin D as possible depression treatment?
The Amsterdam study stopped short of affirming that the vitamin can prevent or treat depression, but called for additional study to investigate the possibility. High parathyroid hormone levels can be treated with higher dietary intake of vitamin D or calcium and increased sunlight exposure, the researchers said, and because the levels of both substances are predictable indicators of depression such treatment has real preventive potential. However, it must be determined whether changes in levels of the vitamin lead to depression or are a result of it.