Food and Behaviour Research

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Efficacy of vitamin D supplementation in depression in adults: a systematic review.

Li G, Mbuagbaw L, Samaan Z, Falavigna M, Zhang S, Adachi JD, Cheng J, Papaioannou A, Thabane L. (2014) J Clin Endocrinol Metab.  99(3) 757-67. Epub 2013 Dec 11. 

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Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) investigating the efficacy of vitamin D (Vit D) in depression provided inconsistent results.


We aim to summarize the evidence of RCTs to assess the efficacy of oral Vit D supplementation in depression compared to placebo.


We searched electronic databases, two conference proceedings, and gray literature by contacting authors of included studies.


We selected parallel RCTs investigating the effect of oral Vit D supplementation compared with placebo on depression in adults at risk of depression, with depression symptoms or a primary diagnosis of depression.


Two reviewers independently extracted data from relevant literature.


Classical and Bayesian random-effects meta-analyses were used to pool relative risk, odds ratio, and standardized mean difference. The quality of evidence was assessed using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation tool.


Six RCTs were identified with 1203 participants (72% females) including 71 depressed patients; five of the studies involved adults at risk of depression, and one trial used depressed patients. Results of the classical meta-analysis showed no significant effect of Vit D supplementation on postintervention depression scores (standardized mean difference = -0.14, 95% confidence interval = -0.41 to 0.13, P = .32; odds ratio = 0.93, 95% confidence interval = 0.54 to 1.59, P = .79). The quality of evidence was low. No significant differences were demonstrated in subgroup or sensitivity analyses. Similar results were found when Bayesian meta-analyses were applied.


There is insufficient evidence to support the efficacy of Vit D supplementation in depression symptoms, and more RCTs using depressed patients are warranted.