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Prospective associations between vitamin D and depression in middle-aged adults: findings from the UK Biobank cohort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological medicine
Accepted/In press15 Sep 2020

King's Authors


Background: A possible role of vitamin D in the pathophysiology of depression is currently speculative, with more rigorous research needed to assess this association in large adult populations. The current study assesses prospective associations between vitamin D status and depression in middle-aged adults enrolled in the UK Biobank.

Methods: We assessed prospective associations between vitamin D status at the baseline assessment (2006-2010) and depression measured at the follow-up assessment (2016) in 139,128 adults registered with the UK Biobank.

Results: Amongst participants with no depression at baseline (n=127,244), logistic regression revealed that those with vitamin D insufficiency (adjusted odds ratio (aOR)=1.14, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.07-1.22) and those with vitamin D deficiency (aOR=1.24, 95% CI= 1.13-1.36) were more likely to develop new onset depression at follow-up compared with those with optimal vitamin D levels after adjustment for a wide range of relevant covariates. Similar prospective associations were reported for those with depression at baseline (n=11,884) (insufficiency: aOR=1.11, 95% CI= 1.00-1.23; deficiency: aOR=1.30, 95% CI=1.13-1.50).

Conclusions: The prospective associations found between vitamin D status and depression suggest that both vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency might be risk factors for the development of new onset depression in middle-aged adults. Moreover, vitamin D deficiency (and to a lesser extent insufficiency) might be a predictor of sustained depressive symptoms in those who are already depressed. Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency is very common, meaning that these findings have significant implications for public health.

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