Research on Vitamin D Continues: Deficiency Linked to Depression, Weight

Dover, DE; Portland, OR—Two new studies continue the flow of research on the negative effects of vitamin D deficiency.

The first study found treating vitamin D deficiency may improve depression. The study was presented at the Endocrine Society’s 94th Annual Meeting in late July by endocrinologist Sonal Pathak, M.D., from the Bayhealth Medical Center.

The case study included three women (ages 42 to 66) that were previously diagnosed with clinical depression and given antidepressants. The women were also being treated for either type-2 diabetes or an underactive thyroid. All three women were given a blood test, finding low levels of vitamin D. The women underwent an oral vitamin D replacement therapy for eight to 12 weeks, which restored their levels to a normal range.

Also, the patients were given a questionnaire to measure depression. One woman’s depression score went from a 32 (considered severe) before the therapy to a 12 (on the low end of mild). Another woman’s score dropped from a 26 (moderate) to an 8 (minimal depression). The third’s score went from a 21 to a 16, which symbolizes a change from a moderate to a mild form of depression.

The second study, published in the Journal of Women’s Health, found older women with lower levels of vitamin D had more weight gain than those with higher levels.

The study was done through the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research. It followed 4,569 women ages 65 and older for five years and found that those with insufficient levels of vitamin D gained two pounds more than those with sufficient levels. Two pounds might not seem that much, but the study’s author, Erin LeBlanc, M.D., claims that the small number can add up.

Approximately 78% of the women had less than 30 nanograms per millimeter of vitamin D in their blood. This percentage is considered adequate by health professionals. These women weighed more than the other women (more than 30 nanograms per millimeter of vitamin D ) to begin with; 148.6 pounds versus 141.6.

Out of the 571 women that did gain weight, the ones with the lowest vitamin D levels (considered insufficient) gained the most (18.5 pounds over the five year study). Women with sufficient levels gained only 16.4 pounds.

Leblanc’s study is part of a larger project called The Study of Osteoporotic Fractures, which has been going on for over two decades.


Published in WholeFoods Magazine, September 2012 (online 7/13/12)