Am Fam Physician. 2014 Jan 15;89(2):131-136.
In patients with low vitamin D levels, does vitamin D supplementation improve symptoms of depression?
Taken in aggregate, symptoms of depression do not improve in patients with low vitamin D levels when given vitamin D supplementation any more than when given placebo. There may be a benefit in patients with low vitamin D levels and mild to moderate depression. (Level of Evidence = 1b–)
This study was conducted in Norway, where researchers started by identifying patients with depressive symptoms and low vitamin D levels (< 22 ng per mL [< 55 nmol per L]). The authors excluded patients with severe depression (who were sent for treatment). The remaining 243 patients had a range of depression scores, although the percentage with mild to moderate depression was not reported. These patients were randomized, using concealed allocation, to receive oral placebo or cholecalciferol at a dosage of 40,000 IU weekly. After six months, vitamin D levels increased to normal in 97.5% of treated patients but in only 1.6% of the placebo group. However, there were significant improvements in depression scores in both groups, including an increase in global seasonality score, a measure of seasonal affective disorder. Patients with higher depression scores (who met the definition of depressive disorder) at the start of the study may have had a greater improvement in depression scores with treatment than patients receiving placebo, although this result needs to be confirmed by other studies.
Study design: Randomized controlled trial (double-blinded)
Funding source: Government
Setting: Outpatient (primary care)
Reference: Kjærgaard M, Waterloo K, Wang CE, et al. Effect of vitamin D supplement on depression scores in people with low levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D: nested case-control study and randomised clinical trial. Br J Psychiatry.. 2012; 201( 5): 360– 368.
POEMs (patient-oriented evidence that matters) are provided by Essential Evidence Plus, a point-of-care clinical decision support system published by Wiley-Blackwell. For more information, please see http://www.essentialevidenceplus.com. Copyright Wiley-Blackwell. Used with permission.
For definitions of levels of evidence used in POEMs, see http://www.essentialevidenceplus.com/product/ebm_loe.cfm?show=oxford.
To subscribe to a free podcast of these and other POEMs that appear in AFP, search in iTunes for “POEM of the Week” or go to http://goo.gl/3niWXb.
Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions
More in AFP
MOST RECENT ISSUE
Aug 15, 2016
Access the latest issue of American Family Physician