APR 26, 2018 6:30 AM PDT

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

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
JAN 15, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
JAN 15, 2020
Laser microchip picks up cancer markers in urine
A future where patients no longer need to endure expensive, painful and complicated cancer tests could soon become a reality. Researchers have developed a...
JAN 13, 2020
Cardiology
JAN 13, 2020
Drinking Tea Linked to Better Heart Health
Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in Beijing have found that drinking black or green tea three or more times per week helps improve ...
JAN 28, 2020
Neuroscience
JAN 28, 2020
Gut Bacteria Influences Behavior in Young Children
Research now suggests that the presence of different gut bacteria may significantly impact children’s behavior, causing some to act out, and some to...
FEB 06, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
FEB 06, 2020
Concussion detector could pick up concussions in athletes, right from the sidelines
Concussions are brain traumas caused by a blow to the head or a whiplash injury. The risk of concussions are greatly heightened in athletes playing high co...
FEB 10, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
FEB 10, 2020
Lighting a Path to an Alzheimer's Disease Treatment
Alzheimer's impacts millions of people around the world; globally, it is thought to cost $605 billion a year, and there is still no way to treat it....
FEB 10, 2020
Cardiology
FEB 10, 2020
Blocking Problem Protein Shows Promise for Preventing Heart Attacks
Over time, atherosclerosis, a disease that causes fatty plaques to build up in the arteries, limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to vital organs. Often le...
Loading Comments...