Low 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations predict incident depression in well-functioning older adults: the health, aging, and body composition study

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2015 Jun;70(6):757-63. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glu184. Epub 2014 Oct 18.


Background: Cross-sectional studies suggest that low 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) may be a risk factor for depression; however, there are few prospective studies. We examined the association between 25(OH)D and depressive symptoms in community-dwelling persons aged 70-79 years in the Health, Aging, and Body Composition (Health ABC) Study (n = 2598).

Methods: Depressive symptoms were assessed using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D) at baseline and 2-, 3- and 4-year follow-up. Serum 25(OH)D was measured at 1-year follow-up and categorized as <20, 20-<30, and ≥30 ng/mL. Mixed models were used to examine change in CES-D scores according to 25(OH)D categories. The association between 25(OH)D categories and incident depression (CES-D short score ≥10 or antidepressant medication use) were assessed using Cox proportional hazards models. Analyses were adjusted for socio-demographic and behavioral characteristics, season, and chronic conditions.

Results: Thirty-three percent of participants had 25(OH)D <20ng/mL. Serum 25(OH)D was not associated with CES-D scores at baseline (p = .51); however, CES-D scores increased over time and were significantly associated with 25(OH)D at 2-year (p = .003) and 4-year follow-up (p < .001). Among 2,156 participants free of depression at the 1-year follow-up, the cumulative incidence of depression was 26.9%. Participants with 25(OH)D <20ng/mL were at greater risk of developing depression (HR [95% CI]: 1.65 [1.23-2.22]) over 4 years of follow-up compared with those with 25(OH)D ≥30ng/mL.

Conclusion: Low 25(OH)D was independently associated with a greater increase in depressive symptom scores and incident depression in community-dwelling older adults.

Keywords: Depression; Epidemiology; Nutrition.; Risk factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Blacks
  • Depression / blood
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Pennsylvania / epidemiology
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tennessee / epidemiology
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Whites


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D