Folic Acids Role in
Cognition & Depression Highlighted in Review
Homocysteine Link Expands to Depression
A recent review in the British Medical
Journal outlined the evidence that suggests folic acid can
prevent depression, dementia and perhaps even Alzheimers
The reviewer noted that folate deficiency has been reported in
up to one third of psychiatric outpatients or inpatients. He
also noted that depressed patients with folate deficiency had
higher depression scores and a poorer response to standard
treatment with antidepressants. Other studies have indicated
that plasma homocysteine is raised in 20-30% of depressed
The reviewer also highlighted a number of studies showing folic
acid can benefit patients with depression. In a double-blind,
placebo controlled trial in depressive patients treated with
lithium, the addition of 200 µg of folic acid for one year
significantly improved affective morbidity. Similarly, depressed
patients treated with both 500 µg folic acid and the drug Prozac
for 10 weeks experienced a significantly improved antidepressant
response, especially in women. In another double-blind, placebo
controlled study, researchers combined 15 mg of methylfolate to
standard psychotropic medication and reported significant
improvement in depressed and schizophrenic patients over six
months. In an earlier controlled study, folic acid alone (15 mg
daily) improved both mood and neuropsychological function in
depressed patients treated for four months.
In addition, the reviewer points out, there is a clear link
between Alzheimers disease and high levels of the amino acid
homocysteine. In a case-control study of 164 Alzheimers disease
patients, cognitive decline was significantly associated with
raised plasma homocysteine and lowered serum folate and vitamin
B12 concentrations. In the Framingham study, a raised plasma
homocysteine concentration doubled the risk of developing
Alzheimers and non-Alzheimers dementia. Folic acid, vitamin B6,
vitamin B12 and/or betaine have been shown to lower high
Researchers believe folic acid works in the same way as SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine).
Both folic acid and SAMe affect methylation in the brain, a
process linked to mood and cognitive function. Methylation also
plays a role in the metabolism of homocysteine, the amino acid
linked to heart conditions and other diseases. Folic acid and
SAMe also both influence monoamine metabolism, a process linked
to depression. In numerous studies, low levels of folate in
serum, red cells, and cerebrospinal fluid and high levels of
plasma homocysteine are linked to depression and dementia.
source of nutrients and supplements.
did we qualify them ?
E H Reynolds. Folic acid, ageing, depression, and dementia.
British Medical Journal. June 22, 2002;324:1512-1515.
Because consuming high doses of folic acid can mask a B12
deficiency, and because both vitamins play a role in lowering
homocysteine levels, supplementing with both vitamins (as in
VRPs Methyl Caps and Advanced Methyl Caps) is recommended.
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