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Largest study of its kind says vitamin D can reduce depressive symptoms

Image of vitamin D supplement tablets
Nicolas Solerieu | Unsplash

News round-up by Conor D'Andrade

According to a newly published meta-analysis, vitamin D supplements can reduce depressive symptoms in adults.

While cross-sectional studies have linked vitamin D deficiencies and symptoms of depression – possibly due to vitamin D having a potential regulatory effect on central nervous system functions – previously carried out meta-analyses examining vitamin D supplementation effects on depression have been inconclusive.

The newly published meta-analysis is the largest of its kind, consisting of data from 41 international randomised placebo trials investigating the efficacy of vitamin D supplements in treating depression in adults.

There were dose differences across these trials, with most using between 50 and 100 micrograms daily.

Overall, the results found that those taking vitamin D experienced significantly fewer symptoms of depression.

“Despite the broad scope of this meta-analysis, the certainty of evidence remains low due to the heterogeneity of the populations studied and the due to the risk of bias associated with a large number of studies," said lead author Toumas Mikola.

“These findings will encourage new, high-level clinical trials in patients with depression in order to shed more light on the possible role of vitamin D supplementation in the treatment of depression.”

Depression a strong indicator of brain fog in people with COVID-19

A newly published study has found that depression is the strongest predictor of people with COVID-19 developing persistent brain fog.

The study was made up of 132 participants, with 22% reporting experiencing brain fog a year after COVID infection.

'Brain fog' is not an officially recognised condition, but rather a term that describes symptoms that can affect a person's ability to clearly think.

Participants took multiple tests to try and determine what factors contribute to the development of COVID-related brain fog, with depression being found to be the best predictor following the analysis of the data.

Interestingly, there was no link between the severity of COVID infection and the intensity of brain fog.

The authors called for more research, particularly longer observational studies, to further understand the link between COVID infection and brain fog.

Potentially revolutionary antidepressant gets fast-track designation

A major depressive disorder medication that is currently in phase III trials has been granted fast-track status by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In previous trials, the drug – developed by pharmaceutical company Relmada – was found to provide rapid and enduring antidepressant effects when compared to a placebo.

REL-1017, described as a ‘new chemical entity,’ works by blocking specific channels called NMDA receptors which prevents them from carrying out their function.

Currently, the therapy is aiming to be used as a daily oral anti-depressant.

“This designation further supports the potential of REL-1017 as a paradigm-shifting novel stand-alone treatment for MDD and highlights the significant unmet medical need in a therapeutic area where little has changed over the last several decades: available treatments remain inadequate for the majority of patients with MDD," said Paolo Manfredi, chief scientific officer at Relmada Therapeutics.

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