Folic Acid Findings: B-vitamin may have role in depression

People with depression may spend a lifetime working through their illness but what they may not know is that because they have depression, they’ll need to maintain their nutritional health as well. The latest news from Tufts University researchers shows that folate, a B-vitamin also known as folic acid, has now been linked to depression.

Dr Martha Morris and her colleagues at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University found that low folate status is detectable in depressed people. They examined red blood cell folate concentrations and other folate markers in 3,000 people who had either no depression, mild depression, or major depression and found that those with major depression have noticeably lower folate status than those who are not depressed. The team also noted that people who had recently recovered from depression had low folate status.

The researchers suggest that folate supplementation may be indicated during the year following a depressive episode. “Clinical studies show that folate supplementation helps depressed people, although we still don’t have a good idea why depressed people have low folate status. Supplementation possibly helps by reducing fatigue and improving energy levels,” says Dr Morris. “People who are diagnosed with depression should then find out whether they are folate-deficient to determine if a supplement is warranted.”

Good folate sources include most vegetables and fruits such as leafy greens, strawberries and melons, as well as dried beans and cereals, or any multivitamin.

Tufts University, June 2003