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Vitamin D Deficiency Tied to Military Suicide

BETHESDA, MD—A new study published in Public Library of Science ONE found low vitamin D levels may correlate to suicide in active duty military personnel.

For "Vitamin D Status and Suicide," researchers at National Institutes of Health, Creighton University Medical Center and Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences conducted a nested, case-control study using serum samples from the Department of Defense Serum Repository (PLoS ONE 8(1): e51543. doi:10.1371). All of the nearly 1,000 subjects were previously deployed, and the samples were drawn within 24 months of suicide. Researchers measured the 25(OH) D levels to estimate vitamin D status, then calculated odds ratio of suicide based on categorical octile levels.

Low vitamin D levels are common in active duty service members, as more than 30 percent of those tested had levels below 20 ng/mL. The scientists noted though average vitamin D levels were similar between the suicide and non-suicide group, the lowest octile of vitamin D levels was at the highest risk of suicide. Subjects in higher octiles had decreased risk.

In recent years, vitamin D deficiency has been tied to everything from obesity to autism; more science is surfacing regarding the vitamin's role in brain health. For further information about recent research on vitamin D, download INSIDER's free digital issue, "2012: A Year in Review."

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