Depression is a major cause of disease burden worldwide which affects approximately 350 million people. Although there are numerous medications for the treatment of depression, less than 50% of patients take medications for depression.

According to a new study published 2 weeks ago in BMC Psychiatry, researchers investigated the effects of vitamin D supplementation on depression and inflammatory biomarkers.

This study was an 8-week double blinded randomized clinical trial (RCT) including 56 patients with mild to moderate depression ranging from 18 to 60 years of age between May 2018 and June 2019. Each patient was randomly assigned to 50,000 IU of vitamin D or a placebo every two weeks over an 8-week period. Assessments included vitamin D 25-OH, intact parathyroid hormone (iPTH), interlukin (IL)- 1β, IL-6, high sensitivity C-reactive protein (Hs-CRP) and depression severity (Beck Depression-II)(BDI-II).

As a result, increased vitamin D levels following 8-weeks of vitamin D supplementation led to a significant decrease in BDI-II scores in patients with mild to moderate depression. However, vitamin D supplementation did not significantly affect the inflammatory biomarker concentrations. It is important to note that most of the patients had normal levels of vitamin D at baseline.

Vitamin D effects on the brain is due to the production of the active form of vitamin D in the brain and gene expression of VDRs in areas associated with mood and social behaviors.

Other nutrients to consider include essential fatty acids as most individuals are often deficient. Fish oils are essential for one’s overall health and reduce inflammation. 

Also, some natural alternatives to anti-depressants include Sceletium tortuosum and Saffron flower. Sceletium tortuosum has attracted increasing attention over past few decades for promoting a sense of wellbeing and treating depression andSaffron flower has had numerous studies demonstrating positive outcomes on MDD and has gone head to head with SSRIs demonstrating the same efficacy. Additional considerations include bacillus coagulans and melatonin.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Kaviani M, Nikooyeh B, et al. Effects of vitamin D supplementation on depression and some selected pro-inflammatory biomarkers: a double-blind randomized clinical trial. BMC Psychiatry. 2022 Nov 11;22(1):694.

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