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Insufficient vitamin D supply may be linked to depression

September 8, 2015

A new study from New Zealand reports that low blood vitamin D concentrations seem to increase the risk of developing a depression in healthy young adults.

The observational study measured blood vitamin D concentrations and documented depressive symptoms of 615 healthy college students with an average age of 19.5 years (1). The study results showed that, after adjusting for age, gender, ethnic origin, body mass index, and time spent outdoors, participants with a vitamin D status below 18 ng/ml were nearly twice as likely to report depressive symptoms compared to the ones with a vitamin D status above 32 ng/ml.

The researchers noted that vitamin D helps to regulate tyrosine hydroxylase, an enzyme used for the production of epinephrine, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Healthy amounts of these hormones are essential to regulate mood, stress, and energy. According to a nationwide survey, 30% of college students reported feeling so depressed that it was difficult to function. College students often feel overwhelmed and lonely, because they might be living alone for the first time and they must adapt to a new schedule. The researchers call for randomized controlled trials of supplementation with vitamin D on healthy young adults.

References

  1. Polak M. et al. Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Concentrations and Depressive Symptoms among Young Adult Men and Women. Nutrients. 2014; 6(11):4720–4730.