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Review of Vitamin D3 and depression in older adults (take 1000-2000 IU) – Sept 2013

Relationship of Vitamin D3 Deficiency to Depression in Older Adults: A Systematic Review of the Literature From 2008-2013

The Journal for Nurse Practitioners; Volume 9, Issue 8 , Pages 506-515, September 2013
Elizabeth Farrington, MSN, AGPCNP-BC eafarrington at gmail.com
Mary Moller, DNP, APRN

In 2009, the seminal integrative literature review on vitamin D and the occurrence of depression included 17 studies on older adults and determined the relationship between vitamin D and depression to be largely circumstantial.
Since this publication,

  • 10 studies have assessed the relationship of vitamin D status/supplementation to depression in elders.
  • Six studies indicated a link between vitamin D deficiency, depressive symptoms, and overall psychological health, and
  • 4 studies highlight vitamin D supplementation and the effect on depressive symptoms.

More studies are needed to confirm a definitive relationship between vitamin D status, supplementation, and effect on depression in geriatric populations.


  1. Geriatric Mental Health Foundation. Depression in late life: not a natural part of aging. http://www.gmhfonline.org/gmhf/consumer/factsheets/depression_latelife.html. Accessed August 10, 2012.
  2. Fiske A, Wetherell J, Gatz M. Depression in older adults. Ann Rev Clin Psychol. 2009;5:363–389
  3. Mann D. Vitamin D deficiency linked to depression. http://www.webmd.com/depression/news/20120627/vitamin-d-deficiency-linked-to-depression. Accessed August 10, 2012.
  4. Nestle M, Nesheim M. To supplement or not to supplement: the US Preventive Services Task Force recommendations on calcium and vitamin D.
    http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1655860. Accessed Aril 26, 2013.
  5. Glynn S. Depressive symptoms alleviated with vitamin D deficiency treatment. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/247275.php. Accessed August 10, 2012.
  6. Watkins D. Bummed out? Here’s the weird reason why. http://news.menshealth.com/vitamin-d-and-depression-study/2012/01/13/. Accessed August 10, 2012.
  7. Chu MP, Alagiakrishnan K, Sadowski C. The cure of ageing: vitamin D—magic or myth?. Postgrad Med J. 2010;86:608–616
  8. Institute of Medicine. Vitamin D reference intake/RDA. http://www.globalrph.com/vitamind_rda.htm. Accessed April 26, 2013.
  9. Bertone-Johnson ER. Vitamin D and the occurrence of depression: causal association or circumstantial evidence?. Nutr Rev. 2009;67:481–492
  10. Anglin R, Samaan Z, Walte S, McDonald S. Vitamin D deficiency and depression in adults: systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Psychiatry. 2013;202:100–107
  11. DeLuca H. Overview of general physiologic features and functions of vitamin D. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;80(6):1689S–1696S
  12. Holick MF. The Vitamin D Solution: A 3-Step Strategy to Cure Our Most Common Health Problem. New York: Hudson Street Press; 2010;
  13. Nguyen HCT, Chernoff A. (2012,). Vitamin D3 25-hydroxyvitamin D. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/2088694-overview. Accessed August 10, 2012.
  14. Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary reference intakes for calcium and vitamin D. http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2010/Dietary-Reference-Intakes-for-Calcium-and-Vitamin-D/Report-Brief.aspx. Accessed July 11, 2013.
  15. Bailey R, Dodd K, Goldman J, et al. Estimation of total usual calcium and vitamin D intakes in the United States. J Nutr. 2010;140:817–822
  16. Barake M, Daher R, Salti I, et al. 25-hydroxyvitamin D assay variations and impact on clinical decision making. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012;97:835–843
  17. DeLuca H. Evolution of our understanding of vitamin D. Nutr Rev. 2008;66(Suppl 2):S73–87
  18. Ginde A, Liu M, Camargo C. Demographic differences and trends of vitamin D insufficiency in the US population, 1988-2004. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(6):626–632
  19. Rosen C. Vitamin D insufficiency. N Engl J Med. 2011;364:248–254
  20. Pazirandeh S, Burns D. Overview of vitamin D. http://www.uptodate.com/contents/overview-of-vitamin-d?detectedLanguage=en&source=search_result&search=overview+of+vitamin+d&selectedTitle=1%7E150&provider=noProvider. Accessed July 11, 2013.
  21. Chan R, Chan D, Woo J, et al. Association between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and psychological health in older Chinese men in a cohort study. J Affective Dis. 2011;130:251–259
  22. Hoogendijk WJ, Lips P, Dik MG, et al. Depression is associated with decreased 25-hydroxyvitamin D and increased parathyroid hormone levels in older adults. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008;65:508–512
  23. May HT, Bair TL, Lappe DL, et al. Association of vitamin D levels with incident depression among a general cardiovascular population. Am Heart J. 2010;159:1037–1043; Full-Text PDF (384 KB)
  24. Milaneschi Y, Shardell M, Corsi AM, et al. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and depressive symptoms in older women and men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010;95:3225–3233
  25. Stewart R, Hirani V. Relationship between vitamin D levels and depressive symptoms in older residents from a national survey population. Psychosomatic Med. 2010;72:608–612
  26. Verhoeven V, Vanpuyenbroeck K, Lopez-Hartmann M, Wens J, Remmen R. Walk on the sunny side of life—epidemiology of hypovitaminosis D and mental health in elderly nursing home residents. J Nutr Health Aging. 2011;16:417–420
  27. Johnson M, Fischer J, Park S. Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency in the Georgia older Americans nutrition program. J Nutr Elder. 2008;27:1–229-46
  28. Zanetidou S, Murri MB, Buffa A, et al. Vitamin D supplements in geriatric major depression. Intern J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2011;26:1209–1210
  29. Sanders KM, Stuart AL, Williamson EJ, et. al. Annual high-dose vitamin D3 and mental well-being: randomised controlled trial. Br J Psychiatry. 2011;198:357–364
  30. Yalamanchili V, Gallagher JC. Treatment with hormone therapy and calcitriol did not affect depression in older postmenopausal women: no interaction with estrogen and vitamin D receptor genotype polymorphisms. J North Am Menopause Soc. 2012;19:697–703
  31. Cherniack EP, Troen BR, Florez HJ, Roos BA, Levis S. Some new food for thought: The role of vitamin D in the mental health of older adults. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2009;11:12–19
  32. Jorde R, Sneve M, Figenschau Y, Svartberg J, Waterloo K. Effects of vitamin D supplementation on symptoms of depression in overweight and obese subjects: randomized double blind trial. J Intern Med. 2008;264:599–609
  33. Vitamin D Council. About vitamin D. http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/. Accessed August 10, 2012.

Study is available at low cost via DeepDyve, including 5 minute preview for free, which included the following

An earlier meta-analysis: Depression 2.2X more likely if vitamin D deficient

Vitamin D deficiency and depression in adults: systematic review and meta-analysis.

Br J Psychiatry. 2013 Feb;202:100-7. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.111.106666.
Anglin RE, Samaan Z, Walter SD, McDonald SD.
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, St Joseph's Hospital, 50 Charlton Avenue E, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. anglinr at mcmaster.ca

BACKGROUND: There is conflicting evidence about the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and depression, and a systematic assessment of the literature has not been available.

AIMS: To determine the relationship, if any, between vitamin D deficiency and depression.

METHOD: A systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies and randomised controlled trials was conducted.

RESULTS: One case-control study, ten cross-sectional studies and three cohort studies with a total of 31 424 participants were analysed. Lower vitamin D levels were found in people with depression compared with controls (SMD = 0.60, 95% CI 0.23-0.97) and there was an increased odds ratio of depression for the lowest v. highest vitamin D categories in the cross-sectional studies (OR = 1.31, 95% CI 1.0-1.71).
The cohort studies showed a significantly increased hazard ratio of depression for the lowest v. highest vitamin D categories (HR = 2.21, 95% CI 1.40-3.49).

CONCLUSIONS: Our analyses are consistent with the hypothesis that low vitamin D concentration is associated with depression, and highlight the need for randomised controlled trials of vitamin D for the prevention and treatment of depression to determine whether this association is causal.

PMID: 23377209

See also VitaminDWiki

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