According to [a] study from Massachusetts General Hospital released [August 5], vitamin D, also known as the sunshine supplement, does not protect against depression in middle-age or older adults. This was one of the first studies large enough to show whether vitamin D supplementation could prevent depression in the general adult population.
The study included more than 18,000 men and women ages 50 and older. Half of the participants received vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) supplementation for an average of five years, and the other half received a matching placebo for the same duration, according to a press release.
“There was no significant benefit from the supplement for this purpose. It did not prevent depression or improve mood” lead author Olivia I. Okereke.
Vitamin D is called the “sunshine vitamin” because the skin can naturally create it when exposed to sunlight. Numerous prior studies showed that low blood levels of vitamin D were associated with higher risk for depression later in life, according to the release, but there have been few large-scale trials to determine causation. With nearly 20,000 people, Okereke said the study was “statistically powered” to answer the question, and the results were clear.
Among the participants, the researchers found the risk of depression was not significantly different between those receiving vitamin D and those on the placebo, and there was no significant difference in mood scores over time.