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Master of Science (M.S.)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
Depression, vitamin D, epidemiology, cross-sectional
Approximately 15 million Americans are diagnosed with a major depressive disorder each year, with higher rates among women and college-aged adults. Recent research suggests a vitamin D insufficiency may be associated with an increased risk of depression among the elderly. However, studies have not been conducted among young women. A recent study of young adults in Massachusetts suggests that two-thirds of this population is vitamin D deficient. We evaluated the association between dietary vitamin D intake and serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D3) and history of depression using data from the UMass Vitamin D Status Study, a cross-sectional study of 237 college-aged women. Information on depression and health-related factors was collected by questionnaire at a single clinic visit. Dietary vitamin D intake was assessed by a Food Frequency Questionnaire, and serum 25(OH)D3 levels were assessed in fasting blood samples by radioimmunoassay. In multivariable analyses, we observed the suggestion of an association between vitamin D from food sources and history of depression. For each 100 IU/day increase of dietary vitamin D there is a 13% decreased risk of depression (95% CI: 0.6, 1.2). However, total vitamin D intake (foods and supplements combined) was not associated with history of depression. Compared to women in the lowest tertile (median=51 nmol/L) of serum 25(OH)D3, women in the second tertile (median=72 nmol/L) had an 82% decreased risk of depression (95% CI: 0.04, 0.90; ptrend=0.008). The results of this study are consistent with vitamin D as a modifiable risk factor for depression and may inform intervention studies among college-aged women.
Elizabeth R. Bertone-Johnson