Depression and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D in older adults living at northern latitudes

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders and is recognised as a major contributor to the global burden of disease. Depressive symptoms are prevalent in approximately 15% of community-dwelling older persons, with major depressive disorder prevalent in 1-5% of adults 65 years and older. Depression risk among older adults may be further exacerbated by an interaction of factors beyond age such as poor dietary intake and time spent indoors which can negatively affect vitamin D status.

Men and women with a deficiency of vitamin D had more depressive symptoms versus adequate vitamin D status. Furthermore, men with a deficiency of vitamin D were more likely to have current major depressive disorder compared with men with adequate vitamin D status.

The authors noted that it is important to note that the association between depression and vitamin D in men was observed at a relatively low level of serum 25(OH)D (<30 nmol/l). In northern latitudes, maintaining vitamin D levels above 30 nmol/l may protect older adults against adverse health conditions which are associated with depression.

Imai CM et al. Depression and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D in older adults living at northern latitudes – AGES-Reykjavik Study. J Nutr Sci. 2015; 4: e37.