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    Posted March 19, 2014 by
    New York, New York

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    Vitamin D has no effect on depression

    Review finds vitamin D supplements have no effect on depressive symptoms

    It has been estimated that one billion people worldwide have inadequate levels of vitamin D in their blood regardless of race and age. Vitamin D has not only been linked to building bones but other conditions as well such as heart disease, diabetes, the common cold and depression.

    Recent observational studies have linked low levels of vitamin D with depressive symptoms, but the effect of vitamin D supplementation as an antidepressant remains uncertain.

    Dr. Jonathan A. Shaffer, PhD, MS, licensed clinical psychologist, clinical researcher, and assistant professor of medical sciences at Columbia University Medical Center and colleagues reviewed the effects of vitamin D supplementation on depressive symptoms in randomized controlled trials. The researchers searched through several publications including The Cochrane Library and MEDLINE. The review found seven trials with 3,191 participants.

    The results showed vitamin D supplementation had no overall effect on depressive symptoms, although considerable discrepancies were observed.

    A subgroup analysis showed that vitamin D supplementation for participants with clinically significant depressive symptoms or depressive disorder had a moderate, statistically significant effect (two studies). However, a small, non-significant effect for those without clinically significant depression ( five studies).

    The team found most studies had unclear or high risk of bias. Studies varied in the amount, frequency, duration, and mode of delivery of vitamin D supplementation.

    In their conclusion the team writes “Vitamin D supplementation may be effective for reducing depressive symptoms in patients with clinically significant depression; however, further high-quality research is needed.”

    The authors note that supplementation with vitamin D also may be effective only for those with vitamin D deficiency. They recommend that future studies should consider how vitamin D dosing and mode of delivery contribute to its effects on depression.

    Dr. Shaffer commented in news release “Although tempting, adding vitamin D supplements to the armamentarium of remedies for depression appears premature based on the evidence available at this time.” He hopes that the current review will guide researchers to design new trials that can answer the question more definitively.

    This review appears in Psychosomatic Medicine.

    Other researchers for this review included Dr. Donald Edmondson, PhD, MPH, Dr. Lauren Taggart Wasson, MD, MPH, Louise Falzon, PGDipInf, and and Kirsten Homma, BA, from CUMC's Center for Cardiovascular Behavioral Health; Nchedcochukwu Ezeokoli (Stanford University); Peter Li (New York University); BA and Dr. Karina W. Davidson PhD, (CUMC).

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