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Depression in Elderly Linked with Low Vitamin D Levels

Unclear whether low vitamin D is a cause, or effect, of depression

TUESDAY, May 6 (HealthDay News) -- Among older adults, depression is significantly associated with lower vitamin D levels and elevated levels of parathyroid hormone, according to an article published in the May issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Witte J.G. Hoogendijk, M.D., Ph.D., of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and colleagues analyzed data from a population-based cohort of 1,282 Dutch community-dwelling older adults aged 65 to 95 years in order to investigate the association between depression and 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] and parathyroid hormone levels. Depression was assessed by self-report and diagnostic interviews.

The investigators found that levels of 25(OH)D were 14 percent lower in individuals with minor depression and 14 percent lower in those with major depressive disorder, compared to control subjects, while parathyroid hormone levels were 5 percent and 33 percent higher, respectively. Even after adjustment for age, sex, body mass index, smoking status, co-morbidities and level of urbanization, depression severity correlated significantly with decreased serum 25(OH)D and increased serum parathyroid hormone levels, the report indicates.

The authors conclude: "Long-term longitudinal studies with repeated assessments should be performed to explore the question of whether decreased 25(OH)D levels and increased parathyroid hormone levels precede depression or follow it. In other words, are these biological changes a cause or a consequence of depression?"

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