Effects of vitamin D supplementation on symptoms of depression in overweight and obese subjects: randomized double blind trial


Rolf Jorde, Medical Department, University Hospital of North Norway, Tromsø 9038, Norway.
(fax: + 47 776 26863; e-mail: rolf.jorde@unn.no).


Objectives.  The objective of the present study was to examine the cross-sectional relation between serum 25-hydoxyvitamin D [25-(OH) D] levels and depression in overweight and obese subjects and to assess the effect of vitamin D supplementation on depressive symptoms.

Design.  Cross-sectional study and randomized double blind controlled trial of 20.000 or 40.000 IU vitamin D per week versus placebo for 1 year.

Setting.  A total of 441 subjects (body mass index 28–47 kg m−2, 159 men and 282 women, aged 21–70 years) recruited by advertisements or from the out-patient clinic at the University Hospital of North Norway.

Main outcome measures.  Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) score with subscales 1–13 and 14–21.

Results.  Subjects with serum 25(OH)D levels <40 nmol L−1 scored significantly higher (more depressive traits) than those with serum 25(OH)D levels ≥40 nmol L−1 on the BDI total [6.0 (0–23) versus 4.5 (0–28) (median and range)] and the BDI subscale 1–13 [2.0 (0–15) versus 1.0 (0–29.5)] (P < 0.05). In the two groups given vitamin D, but not in the placebo group, there was a significant improvement in BDI scores after 1 year. There was a significant decrease in serum parathyroid hormone in the two vitamin D groups without a concomitant increase in serum calcium.

Conclusions.  It appears to be a relation between serum levels of 25(OH)D and symptoms of depression. Supplementation with high doses of vitamin D seems to ameliorate these symptoms indicating a possible causal relationship.