B Vitamin May Help Ease Depression

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RESEARCH has suggested a link between depression and low blood levels of the B vitamin folate, and a new study from the Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts strengthens the association. Investigators looked at folate concentrations in about 3,000 people. Those with major depression--reporting symptoms such as feelings of worthlessness, difficulty concentrating, loss of energy, and changes in appetite and sleep patterns for at least 2 weeks--had lower levels of folate than people who had never been depressed. Mild depression, which is less severe but longer lasting, was associated with low folate status, too.

A study such as this cannot distinguish between the effect of depression on eating (and dietary folate intake) and the possibility that poor folate intake leads to depression. But whichever comes first, the depression or the low folate levels, previous research indicates that folate supplementation does help improve the condition and also makes antidepressants work better. A multivitamin containing the Daily Value for folate--400 micrograms--has been found to be effective, according to lead researcher Martha Morris, PhD.

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