Depression is associated with vitamin D deficiency among urban Malaysian women

June 7, 2016, University of Malaya
Depression is associated with vitamin D deficiency among urban Malaysian women
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Researchers from the Julius Centre University of Malaya, Department of Social & Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Malaysia found that more than 70% of the urban Malaysian women surveyed were vitamin D deficient (<50 nmol/L) and self-perceived to be depressed. Women of Malay and Indian ethnicity were more prone to have vitamin D deficiency, probably due to having darker skin pigmentation, clothing styles constrained by religion and aesthetic preference for fairer skin. The main source of vitamin D in human is through synthesis by the skin exposed to ultra-violet ray from the sunlight.

Studies from the West have shown an association between vitamin D deficiency and depressive symptoms. However, until now there have been no similar studies conducted in tropical countries with abundant of sunshine like Malaysia. Previous local studies showed that a high proportion of Malaysian women were vitamin D deficient, this study further strengthen the evidence, and is also the first to show an association between vitamin D deficiency and depressive symptoms in Malaysia. Women with vitamin D deficiency were also found to report poorer mental health.

Public health authorities should consider routine screening of vitamin D status, to consider vitamin D food fortification programmes, to have sensible sun exposure recommendations and to encourage vitamin D supplements for those who have deficiency.

The lead author Dr. Moy Foong Ming comments: "It is worrying to observe that the majority of urban Malaysian women had vitamin D deficiency and at risk of depression. If no action is taken to rectify the vitamin D status of these women, they will be at risk of postmenopausal osteoporosis as they age. In addition, vitamin D deficiency is also found to be associated with cardiovascular diseases."

The study was recently published in the journal of Public Health Nutrition, the official journal of The Nutrition Society, the largest learned society for nutrition in Europe. It is part of the CLUSTer research project, which is studying the clustering of lifestyle risk factors and understanding its association with stress on health and wellbeing among school teachers in Malaysia.

Explore further: Unravelling the wonders of traditional medicine

More information: Foong Ming Moy et al. Vitamin D deficiency and depression among women from an urban community in a tropical country, Public Health Nutrition (2016). DOI: 10.1017/S1368980016000811

Related Stories

Unravelling the wonders of traditional medicine

March 4, 2016
A Malaysia-China joint research team explores on new medicinal uses of Malaysian traditional herbs Eurycoma longifolia, also known as Tongkat Ali.

The true burden of tuberculosis

May 19, 2015
Prisons are common settings for tuberculosis (TB) outbreaks, yet screening and prevention services can be extremely limited. As the spread of drug-resistant TB increases, understanding and monitoring levels of the disease ...

Recommended for you

Graphic warning labels linked to reduced sugary drink purchases

June 18, 2018
Warning labels that include photos linking sugary drink consumption with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and tooth decay, may reduce purchases of the drinks, according to a new study by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School ...

Study unmasks scale of patient doctor divide

June 13, 2018
A study has estimated that around three million Britons—or 7.6 % of the country—believe they have experienced a harmful or potentially harmful but preventable problem in primary healthcare.

Lentils significantly reduce blood glucose levels, study reveals

June 13, 2018
Replacing potatoes or rice with pulses can lower your blood glucose levels by more than 20 per cent, according to a first-ever University of Guelph study.

Researcher studies the impact religion has on sleep quality

June 13, 2018
Can a person's religious practices impact their sleep quality? That's the focus of a new study by Christopher Ellison in The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Department of Sociology and his collaborators.

Mediterranean-style eating with lean, unprocessed red meat improves heart disease risk

June 13, 2018
Adopting a Mediterranean-style eating pattern improves heart health, with or without reducing red meat intake, if the red meat consumed is lean and unprocessed, according to a Purdue University nutrition study.

Sleeping too much or not enough may have bad effects on health

June 12, 2018
Fewer than six and more than ten hours of sleep per day are associated with metabolic syndrome and its individual components, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Public Health that involved 133,608 ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.