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Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Military Suicide

BETHESDA, Md.—Active duty military personnel who are vitamin D deficient have an increased risk for suicide, according to a new study published in the journal PLoS ONE.

Researchers at National Institutes of Health, Creighton University Medical Center and Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences conducted a study to evaluate if a low level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] could be a predisposing factor for suicide.

For the study, they used serum samples stored in the Department of Defense Serum Repository.

All of the nearly 1,000 participants were previously deployed active duty U.S. military personnel (2002–2008) who had a recent archived serum sample available for analysis. Vitamin D status was estimated by measuring 25(OH) D levels in serum samples drawn within 24 months of the suicide. The researchers calculated odds ratio of suicide based on categorical octile levels of 25)OH) D, adjusted by season of serum collection.

More than 30% of all subjects had 25(OH)D values below 20 ng/mL. Although mean serum 25(OH)D concentrations did not differ between suicide cases and controls, risk estimates indicated that subjects in the lowest octile of season-adjusted 25(OH)D—less than 15.5 ng/mL—had the highest risk of suicide.

Vitamin D deficiency has been a number of health issues, including obesity, cancer, brain health. For more information about recent research on vitamin D, download “Vitamin D—Illuminating the Sunshine Vitamin" slideshow and the free digital issue "2012: A Year in Review" on Food Product Design.

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