Low Folate Levels Linked to Depression

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 depressive episode.

Reference:
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.

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