Like Effexor, vitamin D beneficial for depression

Overcoming a vitamin D deficiency can have positive effects for both depression and diabetes.

According to a recent evidence review in General Hospital Psychiatry, reviewers found that depression was associated with a 1.5-fold increase in the risk of death for patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

"We can now postulate that the harmful effect of depression is universal to individuals with diabetes," said Mijung Park, Ph.D., lead author of the review and assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. Park added that the encouraging news is that depression is highly treatable and suggested that depression treatment should be included in diabetes care strategies.

According to the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet, roughly 30 percent of the 25.8 million people in the U.S. with diabetes also experience symptoms of depression.

One way to help both depression and diabetes may center on treating vitamin D deficiencies.

Vitamin D and diabetes
Research from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine shows that vitamin D can have a profound effect on diabetes, specifically on heptaic insulin sensitivity, or the liver's responsiveness to insulin in the blood. This is a key factor in type 2 diabetes. According to Preeti Kishore, M.B., B.S., an assistant professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, immune cells called macrophages can produce a chemical that increases insulin resistance. Fortunately, having sufficient vitamin D levels can decrease the activity of macrophages and thereby increase insulin sensitivity.

Vitamin D and depression
"Vitamin D may have an as-yet-unproven effect on mood, and its deficiency may exacerbate depression," said Sonal Pathak, M.D., an endocrinologist at Bayhealth Medical Center in Dover, Del. Pathak presented a study on vitamin D deficiency at the Endrocine Society's 94th Annual Meeting in Houston. "If this association is confirmed, it may improve how we treat depression."

Of the women who participated in the study, all were between the ages of 42 and 66 and had previously been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, or clinical depression. All also received antidepressant therapy and were being treated for either an underactive thyroid or Type 2 diabetes.

Over eight to 12 weeks, the women's vitamin D status returned to normal through use of oral vitamin D replacement therapy. At the end of the study, all women treated with with vitamin D replacement therapy reported significant improvement in their depression.

Patients already taking anti-depressant medications such as Effexor for their depression might consider increasing vitamin D intake through a vitamin supplement or spend more time outside, as it's difficult to get enough vitamin D through diet alone.