Vitamin D Supplementation and Depression in the Women's Health Initiative Calcium and Vitamin D Trial

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine; Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Vitamin D; Depression; Antidepressive Agents; Dietary Supplements


Cardiology | Cardiovascular Diseases


While observational studies have suggested that vitamin D deficiency increases risk of depression, few clinical trials have tested whether vitamin D supplementation affects the occurrence of depression symptoms. The authors evaluated the impact of daily supplementation with 400 IU of vitamin D(3) combined with 1,000 mg of elemental calcium on measures of depression in a randomized, double-blinded US trial comprising 36,282 postmenopausal women. The Burnam scale and current use of antidepressant medication were used to assess depressive symptoms at randomization (1995-2000). Two years later, women again reported on their antidepressant use, and 2,263 completed a second Burnam scale. After 2 years, women randomized to receive vitamin D and calcium had an odds ratio for experiencing depressive symptoms (Burnam score ≥0.06) of 1.16 (95% confidence interval: 0.86, 1.56) compared with women in the placebo group. Supplementation was not associated with antidepressant use (odds ratio = 1.01, 95% confidence interval: 0.92, 1.12) or continuous depressive symptom score. Results stratified by baseline vitamin D and calcium intake, solar irradiance, and other factors were similar. The findings do not support a relation between supplementation with 400 IU/day of vitamin D(3) along with calcium and depression in older women. Additional trials testing higher doses of vitamin D are needed to determine whether this nutrient may help prevent or treat depression.


antidepressive agents, calcium, clinical trial, depression, dietary supplements, postmenopause, vitamin D, women

Rights and Permissions

Copyright The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

DOI of Published Version



Bertone-Johnson ER, et al. Vitamin D Supplementation and Depression in the Women’s Health Initiative Calcium and Vitamin D Trial. Am J Epidemiol. First published online May 9, 2012. doi:10.1093/aje/kwr482.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

American Journal of Epidemiology

Related Resources

Link to article in PubMed

PubMed ID