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Low Vitamin D and Depression – the Leading Cause of Disability Worldwide, according to WHO.

Posted May 17 2010 6:53am

According to a joint study from Italy and the US and published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, sunshine can cheer you up, but insufficient levels of the sunshine vitamin may also increase your risk of developing depression.
Both men and women over the age of 65 have increased risk of depressive symptoms is they have low Vitamin D levels , with the association stronger in women than men. “Understanding the potential causal pathway between vitamin D deficiency and depression requires further research,” wrote the researchers. The World Health Organization (WHO) forecasts that within 20 years more people will be affected by depression than any other health problem; it ranks depression as the leading cause of disability worldwide, with around 120 million people affected.

This is not the first time that vitamin D has been linked to symptoms of depression. Dutch scientists reported in 2008 in the Archives of General Psychiatry that low levels of the vitamin and higher blood levels of the parathyroid hormone (PTH) were associated with higher rates of depression among 1,282 community residents aged between 65 and 95. A review by Bruce Ames and Joyce McCann from the Children’s Hospital and Research Center Oakland highlighted the role of the vitamin in maintaining brain health, noting the wide distribution of vitamin D receptors throughout the brain.

According to the review (FASEB Journal, Vol.22, pp. 982-1001), the vitamin has been reported to affect proteins in the brain known to be directly involved in learning and memory, motor control, and possibly even maternal and social behaviour. Depression in the elderly is highly prevalent and can increase the risk of medical illnesses, worsen the outcome of other medical illnesses, and may increase mortality.

People with darker skins living at more northerly latitudes are particularly at risk of low vitamin D, and should get their levels tested according to laboratory expert John Christophides .


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