Vitamin D serum levels, supplementation, and suicide attempts and intentional self-harm among Veterans
Leo Sher, M.D.
A research report “The association between vitamin D serum levels, supplementation, and suicide attempts and intentional self-harm” has recently been published in PLoS One (1). The authors examined the associations between Vitamin D supplementation, 25(OH) blood serum levels, suicide attempts, and intentional self-harm in a population of U.S. Veterans.
Veterans with any vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) or Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) fill between 2010 and 2018 were matched 1:1 to untreated control Veterans having similar demographics and medical histories. Analyses were performed in stratified samples to measure associations by race (Black or White), gender (male or female), blood levels (0-19 ng/ml, 20-39 ng/ml, and 40+ ng/ml), and average daily dosage.
The authors found that vitamin D3 and D2 supplementation were associated with a 45% and 48% lower risk of suicide attempt and self-harm. The association between supplementation and suicide attempts and self-harm was similar by gender for both vitamin D2 and D3. Supplemented Black Veterans and Veterans with 0-19 ng/ml vitamin D serum levels were at about 64% lower risk relative to controls. The authors also observed that supplementation with higher vitamin D dosages was associated with greater risk reductions than lower dosages.
The authors concluded that vitamin D supplementation was associated with a reduced risk of suicide attempt and self-harm in Veterans, especially in Veterans with low blood serum levels and Black Veterans. The authors note that evidence suggests a possible correlation between low vitamin D levels and depression. Vitamin D receptors are located in areas of the brain involved in developing depression, including the hippocampus and hypothalamus.
- Lavigne JE, Gibbons JB. The association between vitamin D serum levels, supplementation, and suicide attempts and intentional self-harm. PLoS One. 2023 Feb 1;18(2):e0279166. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0279166.