A recent study published in the journal Psychiatry Research found a relationship between low vitamin D levels and depression in young women.
Depression affects about 15 million people in the United States each year, and women are twice as likely to develop clinical depression as men. Up to one in four women is likely to have an episode of depression at some point in their life.
Researchers from Oregon State University conducted a study to further our understanding of the relationship between vitamin D levels and depression in college aged females. They looked at the vitamin D levels of 185 female college students, ages 18-25.
The participants completed a depression symptom survey each week for five weeks.
The researchers found a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, with 61% of women of color considered insufficient and 35% of other women considered insufficient. Additionally, more than one third of the participants reported clinically significant depressive symptoms each week.
Young women with lower vitamin D levels were found more likely to have clinically depressive symptoms over the course of a five-week study. This association remained when accounting for other possible explanations, such as time spent outside.
Lead author David Kerr stated, “Vitamin D supplements are inexpensive and readily available…They certainly shouldn’t be considered as alternatives to the treatments known to be effective for depression, but they are good for overall health.”