Low vitamin D linked to depression in older adults

May 13, 2010 in Nutrition for Older Adults, Nutrition Topics in the News

Low vitamin D linked to depression in older adults
New study findings from researchers at the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore are reporting that older adults with low levels of vitamin D are more likely to become depressed, compared to adults with adequate levels of the vitamin.

A growing body of research has already shown that low levels of the vitamin can increase the risk for cancer, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and asthma.

In older adults insufficient vitamin D is quite common, and has been linked to fractures, worse physical function and greater frailty.

To investigate, researchers followed over 900 men and women 65 years and older who were participating in a study investigating the factors associated with loss of mobility in aging people.

At the study's outset, forty-two percent of the women and eighteen percent of the men were depressed.  Researchers found that seventy-two percent of the depressed people had low levels of vitamin D, compared with only and sixty percent of the non-depressed people.

During the six-year study, women with vitamin D insufficiency showed a worse decline in mood, compared to women with adequate levels of the vitamin.

Researchers found that women with low vitamin D who weren't depressed at the beginning of the study were twice as likely to become depressed over the following six years as the women who had sufficient levels of the nutrient.

While similar patterns were seen for men, the association wasn't as strong.

The authors note that while the study does not prove that low vitamin D levels cause depression, people with low levels of the nutrient might have other characteristics that predispose them to the blues.

A study from Statistics Canada released earlier this year found that a whopping two-thirds of Canadians have vitamin D levels below the amounts that have been shown to protect against disease, such as cancer.  While four percent have levels so low they are risk of developing rickets.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, people who are over the age of fifty, have dark skin, don't go outside often or wear clothing that covers most of their skin are at a high risk of falling short on the sunshine vitamin.

Wondering how you can stock up on vitamin D to help prevent disease?  Click here for more information on Leslie Beck's book Foods that Fight Disease.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.