Depressed young people have lower vitamin B12 and vitamin D levels than their peers

Last updated 26 August 2020

Researchers in Turkey have studied serum folate, vitamin B12, homocysteine and 25-OH vitamin D levels in young people with and without depression. Erman Esnafoglu and Deniz Deniz Ozturan recruited 89 children with depression and 43 children without any DSM-5 disorder. They found no difference between the groups in terms of folate levels. However, vitamin B12 and vitamin D levels were significantly lower in those with depression compared to controls, while homocysteine levels were significantly higher.

Based on these results, the researchers considered that vitamin B12 and vitamin D insufficiencies, and raised homocysteine levels, might be involved in the pathogenesis of depression in children and adolescents. Although this possibility is interesting and would have important implications, a cause and effect relationship cannot be confidently concluded from these cross-sectional results alone. Going forward, further research is needed, including longitudinal studies and randomized controlled trials, to better understand these relationships, and to inform whether routine testing or vitamin replacement may be beneficial for young people with depression.

Referring to:

Esnafoglu, E. & Ozturan, D.D. (2020), The relationship of severity of depression with homocysteine, folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin D levels in children and adolescents. Child Adolesc. Ment. Health. doi: 10.111/camh.12387.

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Dr Jessica Edwards
Jessica received her MA in Biological Sciences and her DPhil in Neurobehavioural Genetics from the University of Oxford (Magdalen College). After completing her post-doctoral research, she moved into scientific editing and publishing, first working for Spandidos Publications (London, UK) and then moving to Nature Publishing Group. Jessica is now a freelance editor and science writer, and started writing for “The Bridge” in December 2017.

Discussion

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This is phenomenal work that I would love to become involved with in the future.

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It is good that the authors stated that a cause and effect relationship cannot be confidently concluded from these cross-sectional results alone.

Too often in medical research data are collected after an event and then cause and effect is claimed. All it can do is comment on the strength of the relationship between two variables, that and nothing more. There may well be other variables that are more important but not been investigated. This happens in research regarding mental health problems so many times. It has led to researchers claiming biological and genetic causes in particular that simply do not exist. I personally subscribe to environment as being causative. This ties in with research findings in the discipline of genetics which many medics do not read and do not know about.

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