A new study links low levels of the B
vitamin folate to depression, even in physically healthy people.
Researches from the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at
Tufts University in Boston, determined the folate levels in an
ethnically diverse group of people between 15 to 39 years of
age. The study authors measured red blood cell and serum folate
concentrations in 2,948 subjects, which included 301 subjects
with major depression and 121 with dysthymia (a chronically
depressed mood that is present more than 50% of the time for at
least 2 years in adults). Subjects who met the criteria for a
lifetime diagnosis of major depression had lower serum and red
blood cell folate concentrations than did subjects who had never
been depressed. Those with dysthymia also had lower red blood
cell folate than never-depressed subjects. A large number of
subjects who had recently recovered from depression had low
folate levels and folate deficiencies.
Serum vitamin B12 concentration, alcohol consumption in the
previous year, overweight status and use of vitamin/mineral
supplements, cigarettes and illegal drugs were all taken into
account during the analysis.
The researchers concluded Low folate status was detectable in
depressed members of the general US population. Folate
supplementation may be indicated during the year following a
Morris MS, Fava M, Jacques PF, Selhub J, Rosenberg IH.
Depression and Folate Status in the US Population. Psychother
Psychosom. 2003 Mar-Apr;72(2):80-7.