According to an extensive meta-analysis, vitamin D supplementation may alleviate depressive symptoms in adults with depression. The meta-analysis, conducted by an international team of scientists, included dozens of research studies from around the world. It has been published in the magazine Critical Reviews in Nutritional Science and Nutrition.
Depressive symptoms cause a significant global burden of disease. The therapeutic efficacy of current antidepressants is often insufficient to effectively treat depression. Therefore, other ways of alleviating the symptoms of depression have been sought, for example through nutritional research.
Vitamin D is thought to regulate the functions of the central nervous system. Disruptions of these functions have been linked to depression. In addition, cross-sectional studies have observed an association between vitamin D deficiency and depressive symptoms. However, previous meta-analyses on the effects of vitamin D supplementation on depression were inconclusive. In a meta-analysis, results from several different studies are combined and statistically analyzed.
The new meta-analysis on the association of vitamin D supplementation with depression is the largest published to date. It even included the results of 41 studies from around the world. These studies examined the efficacy of vitamin D in alleviating depressive symptoms in adults through randomized placebo-controlled trials in different populations. The studies included those conducted in patients with depression, in the general population, and in people with various physical conditions.
The results of the meta-analysis show that vitamin D supplementation is more effective than a placebo in relieving depressive symptoms in people with depression. There were large differences in the vitamin D doses used, but typically the vitamin D supplement was 50-100 micrograms (2,000-4,000 IU) per day.
“Despite the wide scope of this meta-analysis, the certainty of evidence remains low due to the heterogeneity of the populations studied and because of the risk of bias associated with a large number of studies,” said doctoral researcher and lead author Tuomas Mikola of the Institute of Clinical Studies. Medicine at the University of Eastern Finland. The meta-analysis is part of Mikola’s thesis.
“These findings will encourage new high-level clinical trials in patients with depression to shed more light on the potential role of vitamin D supplementation in the treatment of depression,” concludes Mikola.
Reference: “The effect of vitamin D supplementation on depressive symptoms in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials” by Tuomas Mikola, Wolfgang Marx, Melissa M. Lane, Meghan Hockey, Amy Loughman, Sanna Rajapolvi, Tetyana Rocks , Adrienne O’Neil, David Mischoulon, Minna Valkonen-Korhonen, Soili M. Lehto and Anu Ruusunen, July 11, 2022, Critical Reviews in Nutritional Science and Nutrition.
The meta-analysis was performed in international collaboration between Finnish, Australian and American researchers.