Vitamin D Supplements Help Alleviate Depression, According to Research Meta-Analysis

A new study finds that vitamin D supplementation may alleviate depressive symptoms in adults with depression.

Vitamin D supplementation may alleviate depressive symptoms in adults with depression, according to an extensive meta-analysis. Conducted by an international team of scientists, the meta-analysis included dozens of research studies from around the world. It has been published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.

Depressive symptoms cause a significant global disease burden. The therapeutic efficacy of current antidepressants is often insufficient to effectively treat depression. This is why further ways to alleviate the symptoms of depression have been sought, for example, from nutritional research.

Vitamin D is thought to regulate central nervous system functions. Disturbances of these functions have been linked with depression. Additionally, cross-sectional studies have observed an association between vitamin D deficiency and depressive symptoms. However, previous meta-analyses on the effects of vitamin D supplementation on depression have been inconclusive. In a meta-analysis, results from multiple different studies are combined and analyzed statistically.

The new meta-analysis on the association of vitamin D supplementation with depression is the largest one published so far. In fact, it included results from 41 studies from around the world. These studies have investigated the efficacy of vitamin D in alleviating depressive symptoms in adults by randomized placebo-controlled trials in different populations. The studies included those carried out in patients with depression, in the general population, and in people with various physical conditions.

The results of the meta-analysis show that vitamin D supplementation is more effective than a placebo in alleviating depressive symptoms in people with depression. There were major differences in the vitamin D doses used, but typically the vitamin D supplement was 50–100 micrograms (2,000–4,000 IU) per day.

“Despite the broad scope of this meta-analysis, the certainty of evidence remains low due to the heterogeneity of the populations studied and the due to the risk of bias associated with a large number of studies,” Doctoral Researcher and lead author Tuomas Mikola of the Institute of Clinical Medicine at the University of Eastern Finland says. The meta-analysis is part of Mikola’s PhD thesis.

“These findings will encourage new, high-level clinical trials in patients with depression in order to shed more light on the possible role of vitamin D supplementation in the treatment of depression,” Mikola concludes.

Reference: “The effect of vitamin D supplementation on depressive symptoms in adults: A systematic review and meta‐analysis of randomized controlled trials” by Tuomas Mikola, Wolfgang Marx, Melissa M. Lane, Meghan Hockey, Amy Loughman, Sanna Rajapolvi, Tetyana Rocks, Adrienne O’Neil, David Mischoulon, Minna Valkonen-Korhonen, Soili M. Lehto and Anu Ruusunen, 11 July 2022, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.
DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2022.2096560

The meta-analysis was carried out in international collaboration between Finnish, Australian and US researchers.

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