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Vitamin D may slow aging and ease depression

People with higher levels of vitamin D may age more slowly and have less depression, two new studies reveal.

In a study on aging, researchers recruited 2,160 women aged 18 to 79, average age 49, and measured blood levels of vitamin D, which can be a sign of aging in the DNA, and C-reactive protein (CRP), which can be a sign of inflammation. Doctors found that compared to women with the lowest blood levels of vitamin D, women with the highest levels of vitamin D had healthier chromosomes in the DNA, representing a five-year difference in chronologic aging. Measuring inflammation, when scientists compared those who had the lowest vitamin D and highest CRP levels to those with the highest vitamin D and lowest CRP levels, the difference in chromosomes represented 7.6 years of aging. The doctors concluded, “These results demonstrate for the first time that people who have higher levels of vitamin D may age more slowly than people with lower levels of vitamin D. This could help to explain how vitamin D has a protective effect on many age-related diseases including heart disease and cancer.”

In a depression study, researchers tested the link between low levels of vitamin D, high levels of a certain hormone and depression. Doctors found that compared to those without depression, people with minor or major depression had 14 percent lower levels of vitamin D and had parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels that were 5 percent higher and 33 percent higher, respectively. PTH levels increase as vitamin D levels decline.

The scientists do not know if low levels of vitamin D or high levels of PTH cause or are the result of depression and suggest more study. Participants included 1,282 men and women aged 65 to 95, about 15 percent of whom had minor or major depression. Scientists noted that overall, nearly 40 percent of the men and 57 percent of the women had low levels of vitamin D.

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