A new US-based study has found a link between oral vitamin D supplements and a reduced risk of suicide attempt and intentional self-harm of around 45-48 per cent among veterans in the Department of Veterans Affairs, with supplementation of higher daily dosages associated with even further reductions than lower dose supplementation.
Published in the PLOS ONE journal, the retrospective cohort study also found that the associated risk reduction in self-harm and suicide attempt was more significant among black veterans receiving vitamin D supplementation than among white veterans.
The conclusion was drawn that as a relatively safe, affordable and easily accessible medication, promoting the use of these kinds of supplements in the veteran community could hold promise if these results are later confirmed in clinical trials.
Vitamin D deficiencies have been linked to mental health conditions such as depression, fatigue, mood changes, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, insomnia, changes in appetite and weight, and forgetfulness.
Furthermore, low vitamin D serum levels have also been associated with other conditions that have high rates of comorbid depression, including schizophrenia, obesity and seasonal affective disorder.
The researchers found that veterans with the lowest blood levels of vitamin D would potentially benefit the most from taking supplements.
The dose-response finding combined with significant risk reductions in veterans with the lowest serum levels gives credence to the main finding of a general reduction in self-harm and suicide attempt risk for those taking supplements.
However, it was also noted that additional research is now required to see if there’s an association between behavioural risks once sufficient levels of vitamin D have been reached.
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