We aimed to test the hypothesis that serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D3
(25(OH)D) concentration is associated with mental health and life stress measures in young adults and investigate gender and racial disparities in these associations. This study comprised 327 black and white participants. Depression, trait anxiety, perceived stress, and hostility were measured by the following validated instruments: Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), and Cook–Medley Hostility Scale (CMHS). Linear regression was used to estimate correlations between serum 25(OH)D concentration and mental health measurements in the total population and in subgroups stratified by gender and race. In this sample (28.2 ± 3.1 years, 52% female, 53% black), serum 25(OH)D concentration was negatively related to BDI, STAI, PSS, total CMHS score, and the majority of CMHS subscale scores (p
-values < 0.05). Stratified by gender, most of these associations remained significant only in women (p
-values < 0.05). Stratified by race, higher 25(OH)D concentrations in white participants were significantly related to lower BDI, STAI, PSS, and CMHS-cynicism subscales (p
-values < 0.05); 25(OH)D concentrations in the black participants were only inversely associated with CMHS and most CMHS subscales (p
-values < 0.05) but not with BDI, STAI, and PSS. We present novel findings of consistent inverse relationships between serum 25(OH)D concentration and various measures of mental health and life stress. Long-term interventional studies are warranted in order to investigate the roles of vitamin D supplementation in the prevention and mitigation of depression, anxiety, and psychological stress in young adults.
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