Because previous studies have suggested that vitamin D deficiency may cause depression, other studies have proposed that using vitamin D supplements to increase vitamin D levels may help reduce depressive symptoms. However, new research published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found no evidence that vitamin D supplements help reduce depression.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that enhances the intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphate and aids communication between cells. Nicknamed the “sunshine vitamin” because the body synthesizes the vitamin after adequate exposure to sunlight, vitamin D is available through food sources such as spinach, kale, okra, collards, soy beans, white beans, and some fish such as sardines, salmon, perch, and rainbow trout as well as through supplements.
For the present study, researchers led by Dr. Jonathan A. Schaffer of the Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) in New York, New York performed a systematic review of seven clinical trials involving 3,191 participants that studied the effects of vitamin D supplementation on depressive symptoms. The researchers compared the results of the clinical trials with no vitamin D supplementation on depression.
The researchers in the present study say that almost all the trials were “characterized by methodological limitations” and that only two studies included participants who had clinical depression at the beginning of the studies.
Additionally, the overall improvement in depressive symptoms across all the trials was small and not clinically meaningful.
However, the researchers do note that vitamin D supplements may help reduce depressive symptoms in some patients with clinical depression, particularly individuals already taking standard antidepressant medication. Additional research using well-designed trials that test the effect of vitamin D supplements on these patients is still needed before determining any clinical benefits of vitamin D supplements.
States Dr. Schaffer, “Although tempting, adding vitamin D supplements to the armamentarium of remedies for depression appears premature based on the evidence available at this time.”
In the meanwhile, the researchers can conclude only that vitamin D supplements help treat vitamin D deficiency. The best source of vitamin D is through adequate exposure to sunlight.
The findings of the present study may help create new trials that will determine whether vitamin D supplements can help reduce depression.
Another recent meta-analysis concluded that current evidence fails to support the claims of the health benefits of vitamin D supplements and that future studies will unlikely reveal supporting evidence.
Study Finds No Evidence That Vitamin D Supplements Reduce Depression: http://newsroom.cumc.columbia.edu/blog/2014/03/18/study-finds-evidence-vitamin-d-supplements-reduce-depression/
Vitamin D Supplements ‘Do Not Reduce Depression’: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/274295.php
Vitamin D Supplements and Depression: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/83978