APR 26, 2018 06:30 AM PDT

Vitamin D Levels and Bipolar Disorder: Is There a Link?

2 21 1990

While it's necessary to get enough vitamin D in your diet or from the sun, there's another reason some experts are looking at vitamin D levels. A recent study at Ohio State University suggested that a protein that is associated with vitamin D is present in higher amounts in children who have bipolar disorder. 

The finding is significant because there is currently no lab assay that can definitively diagnose bipolar disorder. It's a complicated mental illness, and patients often have symptoms that are found in other diseases as well. If there were a blood test that confirms a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, patients would likely be able to get better treatment sooner. 

The study wasn't large, but the results were significant. In 36 young people, some with bipolar and some healthy, the levels of a vitamin D binding protein were more than a third higher in the participants with bipolar compared to the healthy controls. The clinical investigation portion of the study was conducted at Harding Hospital at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center and included 13 children without mood disorders, 12 children with diagnosed bipolar disorder, and 11 children with major depressive disorder.


It's only a first step, however. While there is an association between bipolar and the levels of the binding protein, there is more research needed to confirm a valid biomarker for the disorder. Any study would have to include a broader sample group, as well as testing for other related proteins. Still, if researchers could develop a reliable test for such a devastating illness, thousands of families would be able to access better care. 

RELATED: Diet and Dementia: What's True and What's Not


Barbara Gracious is the study lead co-author and an associate professor of clinical psychiatry and nutrition at Ohio State. She explained, "Childhood bipolar disorder can be very difficult to distinguish from other disorders, especially in youth with certain types of depression.
Prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment alleviates the suffering of the child and family, and can potentially lessen the risk for suicide."

The team chose to look at the binding protein rather than vitamin D itself is because bipolar disorder is complex. Beginning with the generation of vitamin D is necessary to see how it could be related. Ouliana Ziouzenkova, the study's lead author and an associate professor of human nutrition at Ohio State stated in a press release, "We wanted to look at factors that could be involved in mood disorders on a cellular level and that could be easily found in the blood. We want to help psychiatrists, and other doctors diagnose children early and accurately. Once bipolar disorder progresses, it is more challenging to treat." The team hopes to be able to research blood samples from individuals with bipolar disorder that are already collected in biobanks. Check out the video below about the basics of vitamin D, where it comes from and what it can do.

Sources: Ohio State University. Translational Psychiatry.

About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
JUL 03, 2018
Immunology
JUL 03, 2018
Here's a Virus that Boosts the Immune System
There’s a new therapeutic approach to boosting the weakened immune system that develops naturally with age, but it’s anything but conventional.
JUL 11, 2018
Health & Medicine
JUL 11, 2018
What's So Super About Superfoods?
Nutrition is important, and eating a healthy diet is the best way to manage weight, stay fit and reduce the risk of some diseases. Food is what sustains us
JUL 15, 2018
Immunology
JUL 15, 2018
Enzyme Pathway Mediates Immune Response to Chagas Disease
The enzyme, PI3Kγ, regulates the immune response to T. cruzi, the cause of Chagas Disease. Manipulation of this enzyme may lead to better treatment of T. cruzi.
JUL 16, 2018
Microbiology
JUL 16, 2018
Cyclospora to Blame for Several Foodborne Outbreaks
One outbreak of cyclosporiasis, which is caused by a parasite, has been traced back to salads sold at McDonald's, mostly in the Midwest.
JUL 19, 2018
Videos
JUL 19, 2018
Hazmat Spill at Johns Hopkins
Biohazards are a common problem in any kind of scientific research, and if a spill of dangerous materials occurs, it can be deadly. Luckily, a recent spill
JUL 20, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
JUL 20, 2018
Nanoparticle-based Gene Therapy Cures Disease in Fetal Mice
Although CRISPR has grabbed a lot of headlines in recent years, it is not the only gene-editing game in town.
Loading Comments...