Low Levels of Vitamin D Associated With Depression in Older Adults

Every 10-ng/mL increase in serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D was associated with a 12% decrease in the risk for depression in older adults.

Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were negatively associated with the risk for depression in a large cohort of older adults, according to results from a study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Researchers conducted a dose-response meta-analysis of 6 prospective cohort studies that included a total of 16,287 adults age 55 years or older. In total, 1157 cases of depression were analyzed. Major databases were searched for studies that investigated the association between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations and the risk for depression. Subsequently, a random-effects model was used to analyze dose-response relationships and measure a pooled hazard ratio.

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After statistical analysis, the researchers reported that each 10 ng/mL rise in serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D was associated with a 12% reduction in the risk for depression (pooled hazard ratio, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.78-0.99; P <.001). In addition, a linear dose-response relationship was seen between incident depression and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels (P =.96 for nonlinearity).

One key limitation of the study was the observational design.

“Increasing [serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D] levels may be a useful approach to reduce the risk of depression in older adults,” the researchers wrote.

“Further findings from high-quality clinical studies are warranted,” they concluded.


Li H, Sun D, Wang A, et al. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and depression in older adults: a dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies [published online June 5, 2019]. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. doi:10.1016/j.jagp.2019.05.022