Vitamin D doesn't help depression

August 2, 2012

Although previous research suggests that vitamin D deficiency increases a woman's risk of depression, a new study- The Women's Health Intiative Calcium and Vitamin D Trial-finds no associations between 2 years of vitamin D and calcium supplementation and depressive symptoms.

  • Multicenter WHI study tested 400 IU/d vitamin D3 + 1000 mg/d calcium carbonate

  • More studies needed on risk/benefit of higher vitamin D3 dosage

Although previous research suggests that vitamin D deficiency increases a woman’s risk of depression, a new study-The Women’s Health Initiative Calcium and Vitamin D Trial-finds no association between 2 years of vitamin D and calcium supplementation and depressive symptoms.

Researchers included in the randomized, double-blind trial more than 36,000 postmenopausal women aged 50 to 79 from 40 clinical centers across the United States. The investigators gave the women either 400 IU/d vitamin D3 plus 1000 mg/d calcium carbonate or placebo.

Using the Burnam 8-item scale for depressive disorders and current use of antidepressants to gauge depression, the researchers found that 9.4% of the women taking vitamin D/calcium supplementation were depressed versus 9.9% of those taking placebo. Similarly, at 1 year, 6.5% of the women assigned to supplementation were using antidepressants versus 7.1% of the women taking placebo. The researchers also found no association between supplementation and antidepressant use at year 3. And the findings didn’t seem to be influenced by such factors as intake of vitamin D and calcium from diet, time spent in the sun, physical activity, or current cigarette smoking.

Published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the findings indicate that supplementation with vitamin D3 and calcium does not influence the risk of depression. But the researchers concluded that additional studies testing higher doses of vitamin D without calcium are needed before absolute conclusions are drawn. They say 400 IU/d vitamin D may be insufficient to influence depression and that some studies have shown that long-term high calcium intake increases risk of arterial calcification, which has been associated with depression.

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