Vitamin D strengthens the bones and the heart and has benefitted patients suffering from a variety of ailments including obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, and autoimmune diseases. We get a natural dose of Vitamin D from the sunshine and from foods full of calcium, but millions of Americans take additional Vitamin D supplements to support their health.
Researchers at the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center and Cooper Institute in Dallas can now add one more way that Vitamin D might benefit those suffering from a psychological ailment. Researchers have found an affective association between low levels of Vitamin D and depression.
In the largest study believed to examine the link between Vitamin D and depression, scientists now have to determine how exactly the two affect each other. It is not certain whether low levels of Vitamin D provoke depression or whether depression causes a decrease of levels of Vitamin D in the body.
Dr. E Sherwood Brown, the lead author of the study and a professor of psychiatry, states that more data needs to be collected and analyzed before researchers can make accurate recommendations on how much Vitamin D a person suffering from depression should consume.
Brown stresses that patients should work with their doctors in deciding the right dosage of vitamins in their diet. An overdose of a vitamin can actually harm ones health. A recent issue of the American Journal of Cardiology published a study that showed that too much Vitamin D could counteract the good that the vitamin does for cardiovascular health. Muhammed Amer’s research shows that increased levels of Vitamin D were linked with lower levels of c-reactive protein, which helps control cardiovascular inflammation.
Researchers hope to find the missing link between Vitamin D and depression by studying how the vitamin affects neurotransmitters, inflammatory markers, and other factors.
From 2006 to 2010, researchers from the Cooper Institute studied approximately 12,600 people. The study revealed that participants with higher Vitamin D levels had a decreased risk of depression, while those with low Vitamin D levels exhibited depressive symptoms. Those most affected by the link were ones who had a history of depression.
The study did not reveal whether depression could be decreased by administering more Vitamin D supplements.
Researchers from the UT Southwestern Medical Center analyzed the data from the Cooper Center and published their report in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings. The Cooper Center Longitudinal Study, founded in 1970 by Dr. Kenneth Cooper, has collected information from over 250,000 clinic visits and compiled them into an extensive database.
Partnerships like the one between UT and the Cooper Institute may help find the missing link between Vitamin D and depression. Their study is believed to be the largest study of its kind ever conducted. Dr. Brown hopes that more research will highlight better the body’s needs for Vitamin D in people who suffer from depression. He believes that more specific screening of patients with depression and low Vitamin D levels may be the next step in the process.