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Vitamin D status linked to bipolar disorder, according to study

Posted on: October 11, 2016   by  Vitamin D Council


A recent study published by the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology found individuals who have bipolar disorder were 4.7 times more likely to be vitamin D deficient.

Bipolar disorder is a psychiatric condition in which an individual transitions between spells of depression and mania. Approximately 5.7 million adults in the United States are affected with this condition. In severe cases, bipolar disorder can be debilitating and potentially life threatening.

Vitamin D status has been linked to neuropsychiatric illness, including but not limited to depression, schizophrenia and seasonal affective disorder. However, there is limited research evaluating the relationship between vitamin D and bipolar disorder.

In an effort to determine whether vitamin D status is associated with bipolar disorder, researchers recently conducted a cross sectional study including 118 patients with bipolar disorder and 202 patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. Schizoaffective disorder is diagnosed when an individual has schizophrenia and a mood disorder, including bipolar and depression. The participants’ vitamin D levels were measured during their annual checkup. Vitamin D levels of >30 ng/ml were considered optimal, levels between 20-29 ng/ml were sufficient, levels between 12.1-19.9 ng/ml were insufficient and levels <12 ng/ml were classified as vitamin D deficient.

**In order to convert ng/ml to nmol/l, multiply the ng/ml number by 2.5. For example, 30 ng/ml is the same as 75 nmol/l.

Here is what the researchers discovered:

  • Of the 118 participants with bipolar disorder, 20.3% had optimal levels, 25.4% were sufficient, 31.4% were insufficient and 22.9% were vitamin D deficient.
  • After adjusting for confounding variables, the type of psychiatric disorder did not predict the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency.

The researchers concluded,

“In this study, vitamin D deficiency was found to be 4.7 times more common in a population of 320 outpatients with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or schizoaffective disorder compared with the Dutch general population.”


Boerman R, et al. Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in adult outpatients with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2016.

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