Background. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with both poor bone health and mental ill-health. More recently, a number of studies have found individuals with depressive symptoms tend to have reduced bone mineral density. To explore the interrelationships between vitamin D status, bone mineral density and mental-ill health we are assessing a range of clinical, behavioural and lifestyle factors in young women (Part A of the Safe-D study).
Design and methods. Part A of the Safe-D study is a cross-sectional study aiming to recruit 468 young females aged 16-25 years living in Victoria, Australia, through Facebook advertising. Participants are required to complete an extensive, online questionnaire, wear an ultra-violet dosimeter for 14 consecutive days and attend a study site visit. Outcome measures include areal bone mineral measures at the lumbar spine, total hip and whole body, as well as soft tissue composition using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. Trabecular and cortical volumetric bone density at the tibia is measured using peripheral quantitative computed tomography. Other tests include serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D, serum biochemistry and a range of health markers. Details of mood disorder/s and depressive and anxiety symptoms are obtained by self-report. Cutaneous melanin density is measured by spectrophotometry.
Expected impact. The findings of this cross-sectional study will have implications for health promotion in young women and for clinical care of those with vitamin D deficiency and/or mental ill-health. Optimising both vitamin D status and mental health may protect against poor bone health and fractures in later life.