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Vitamin D supplement reduces risk of suicide

Supplementing with vitamin D reduces the chance that people will attempt suicide. American researchers discovered this, who literally followed several hundred thousand veterans for years.

Vitamin D supplement reduces risk of suicide

Researchers at the US Department of Veterans Affairs followed 169,241 veterans who received prescription vitamin D2, and did the same with an equal number of comparable veterans who did not receive vitamin D supplements. The researchers also followed 490,885 veterans who received prescription vitamin D3 and compared them to an identical number of similar veterans who also did not receive vitamin D supplements.

In the US, veterans can take advantage of government health programs. As a result, they can be prescribed vitamin D supplements from a pharmacy if desired.

Because studies suggest that supplementing with vitamin D reduces the risk of depression, the researchers looked at how often which groups of veterans attempted to take their own life or seriously injure themselves.

The researchers knew how much DHA [structural formula shown below] the participants had in their blood, and divided the participants into 5 equal groups based on this. The Americans then looked at whether there was a relationship between DHA levels and testing positive for Covid-19, the risk of hospitalization and death.

The veterans who had a prescription for vitamin D2 and D3 supplements attempted suicide significantly less often than the other veterans. The protective effect of both types of vitamin D was not inferior to each other.

Vitamin D supplement reduces risk of suicide

Vitamin D supplement reduces risk of suicide

Vitamin D supplement reduces risk of suicide

The protective effect of DHA is less clear when it comes to death. The study participants in the quintile with the highest concentration of DHA in their blood did not have an even lower risk of death than the study participants in the fourth quintile.

The researchers keep open the possibility, read between the lines, that this is because the fifth quintile contains a relatively large number of relatives who use fish oil supplements for health reasons. The researchers have not been successful in filtering out these lifestyle factors.

Dark-skinned veterans in particular benefited from supplementation. In fair-skinned people, vitamin D3 supplementation reduced the risk of suicide attempts and intentional self-harm by about 38 percent. This was 63 percent among dark-skinned people.

The researchers also found an association between the risk of attempted suicide and the dose of vitamin D. The higher the dose, the greater the reduction in risk. The doses that the veterans used varied from 400 to 4800 IU per day.

The researchers emphasize that an association in an epidemiological study is not always a causal relationship. Perhaps the veterans who took vitamin D were more careful about their health, and that carefulness explains the connection.

For that reason, they advocate for clinical trials.

"As a relatively safe, easily accessible, and affordable medication, supplementation with vitamin D in the veteran population may hold promise if confirmed in clinical trials to prevent suicide attempts and suicide", they write.

PLoS One 18(2):e0279166.

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