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Vitamin D deficiency links with depressive symptoms in young women

The study

185 non-pregnant American women aged 18-25 were assessed for symptoms of depression and vitamin D levels over a period of four weeks. Young healthy women were chosen for the study, to remove the impact of confounding factors such as co-mordibities, age and gender.

The findings

1 Vitamin D3 levels correlated with clinically significant symptoms of depression.

2 Women from ethnic minorities were more likely to have vitamin D3 deficiency.

3 Foods with high vitamin D concentrations seem to have a negligible impact on vitamin D3 levels compared to vitamin D3 supplements and sunlight exposure.

What does this mean for GPs

GPs should be proactive in screening for vitamin D3 deficiency in young women.

GPs should be aware of the possibility of vitamin D3 deficiency in women suffering from depression, and that treating this could help to improve symptoms of depression.

The paper

Psychiatry Research, March 2015 

Dr Hamed Khan is a GP in the emergency department of St George’s, London, and a clinical lecturer. He tweets as @drhamedkhan.