New Research Correlates Low Vitamin D with Military Suicides

Jan 26, 2013

Public Library of Science

Date: January 5th, 2012

New research published in the open access peer reviewed journal Public Library of Science on Jan. 5, 2012, is the first to correlate vitamin D levels and a higher propensity for suicide in U. S. military personnel.

The basis of the investigation lies in the fact that higher suicide rates have been established in multiple studies across the world that indicate more suicides occur in the spring when vitamin D rates are lowest.

The study compared the vitamin D levels of 495 verified suicide cases with 495 controls taken from the Department of Defense Serum Repository. Participants were previously deployed active duty US military personnel in 2002 to 2008.

Low serum levels of vitamin D were common in service personnel regardless of race, sex, or branch of service. Protective clothing, diet, and a propensity to stay indoors when depressed were contributing factors in the low levels of vitamin D observed.

The lowest levels of vitamin D correlated with a higher suicide level.

A potential link between vitamin D deficiency and impulsivity is suggested by findings that vitamin D deficiency may increase brain inflammatory cytokines, which can reduce serotonergic activity that has been associated with higher rates of suicide.

The immediate solution is additional sunlight exposure and vitamin D supplementation. The researchers indicate that this preliminary study needs more work to identify the specifics associated with low levels of vitamin D and post traumatic stress disorder, depression, and the fact that in a young, sometimes aggressive population such as the military, impulsivity plays more of a role than depression in the risk for suicide.


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