There have been few studies of whether vitamin D insufficiency is linked with depression in healthy young women despite women׳s high rates of both problems. Female undergraduates (n=185) living in the Pacific Northwest during fall, winter, and spring academic terms completed the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CES-D) scale weekly for 4 weeks (W1-W5). We measured serum levels of vitamin D3 and C (ascorbate; as a control variable) in blood samples collected at W1 and W5. Vitamin D insufficiency (<30ng/mL) was common at W1 (42%) and W5 (46%), and rates of clinically significant depressive symptoms (CES-D≥16) were 34-42% at W1-W5. Lower W1 vitamin D3 predicted clinically significant depressive symptoms across W1-W5 (β=-0.20, p<0.05), controlling for season, BMI, race/ethnicity, diet, exercise, and time outside. There was some evidence that lower levels of depressive symptoms in Fall participants (vs. Winter and Spring) were explained by their higher levels of vitamin D3. W1 depressive symptoms did not predict change in vitamin D3 levels from W1 to W5. Findings are consistent with a temporal association between low levels of vitamin D and clinically meaningful depressive symptoms. The preventive value of supplementation should be tested further.
Keywords: Depressive symptoms; Seasonal affective disorder; Vitamin D.
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