Vitamin D deficiency associated with heightened depression, study finds.
A lack of vitamin D – common in the UK during the autumn and winter months – has been associated with increased symptoms of depression, according to a new study.
Earlier this year everyone in Britain was recommended to take supplements of the vitamin during the darker months. While it is found in a few foods like oily fish, most people get vitamin D from a natural effect on the body caused by sunlight. Low levels are associated with bone conditions such as rickets and osteoporosis, but it can also affect muscle tissue and has been found to be associated with normal levels of dopamine, a chemical linked to mood, in the brain.
In the new study, which was revealed at the International Early Psychosis Association in Milan, scientists tested vitamin D levels among 225 patients being treated for psychotic disorders and another 159 well people. They found a significant association between low levels of vitamin D and “higher levels of negative symptoms and of depression” among people with psychosis. They also found a significant link to reduced verbal fluency and cognitive impairments.
In a paper in the journal Schizophrenia Research, the researchers, from Norway, suggested vitamin D could be used to help treat patients. “In a clinical setting, this could support vitamin D as adjuvant therapy in treating co-morbid depressions in psychotic disorders,” they wrote.