(NaturalNews) Insufficient levels of vitamin D have been linked to a higher risk of depression in adults over the age of 65, in a study conducted by researchers from the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore and published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
"[Preventing] vitamin D deficiency in the elderly may become in the future a strategy to prevent the development of depressive mood in the elderly and avoid its deleterious consequences on health," the researchers wrote. "In addition, normalization of vitamin D levels may be part of any depression treatment plans in older patients."
The study was conducted on 423 men and 531 women who were participating in the InCHIANTI Study on loss of mobility in the elderly. All participants were over the age of 65.
At the beginning of the study, 18 percent of men and 42 percent of women were depressed. A full 72 percent of those suffering from depression also had insufficient levels of vitamin D in their blood (less than 50 nanomoles per liter), in contrast to only 60 percent of those not suffering from depression. Among women, insufficient levels of vitamin D were linked to a significantly greater decline in mood over the course of three and six years. In addition, women who were not depressed at the beginning of the study but who had insufficient levels of vitamin D were significantly more likely to become depressed in the following six years than their counterparts with sufficient levels of the vitamin.
Although similar effects were also seen in male participants, the connection between vitamin D and mood was not statistically significant and thus might have been caused by chance.
Vitamin D deficiency is known to increase the risk of fractures and osteoporosis, and may also increase the risk of infection, autoimmune disorders and chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.