Vitamin D won't reduce risk of depression

  • Vitamin D is often touted as a way to protect against depression
  • In a study, participants took vitamin D3 supplements for five years
  • The risk of depression was, however, not significantly different between those getting vitamin D supplements and those on a placebo


For those battling debilitating depression, a new study delivers some bad news: Vitamin D supplements won't make a dent in improving mood.

While the "sunshine vitamin" is often touted as an alternative way to protect against depression, vitamin D's efficacy has remained unknown, the researchers said.

But "there was no significant benefit from the supplement for this purpose. It did not prevent depression or improve mood," said study author Dr Olivia Okereke, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

No significant differences in mood

For the study, more than 18 000 men and women aged 50 or older were selected to take vitamin D3 or a placebo, for an average of five years.

Many other studies have found that low levels of vitamin D were tied with a higher risk for depression.

Among the participants, the risk of depression or depressive symptoms was not significantly different between those getting vitamin D supplements and those on the placebo, the researchers found. Also, no significant differences were seen between the groups in mood.

Still, "It's not time to throw out your vitamin D yet though, at least not without your doctor's advice," Okereke said in a hospital news release.

The report was published on 4 August in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Vitamin D is known to be essential for bone and metabolic health, but randomized trials have cast doubt on many of the other presumed benefits," said senior study author Dr JoAnn Manson, from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Image credit: Getty Images

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