People who are deficient in vitamin B12 and folate appear to be at greater risk of suffering from some forms of depression, according to new research out of Finland.
The findings, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, suggest boosting the intake of those nutrients may help combat melancholic depressive symptoms. The study, involving nearly 3,000 middle-aged and elderly Finnish subjects, also found non-melancholic depressive symptoms are associated with an increased risk for metabolic problems typically linked to obesity.
"The findings have practical implications in the care of patients with depressive symptoms,” said lead researcher Dr. Jussi Seppälä, chief of the Department of Psychiatry of the Hospital District of Southern Savo. “For example, it may be wise to avoid medication causing weight gain among patients with non-melancholic depression, whereas melancholic depressive symptoms may call for a closer look at the quality of the patient's diet."
Melancholic depression involves typical depressive symptoms, such as feelings of sadness. Non-melancholic depression is characterized by other types of symptoms, such as low self-esteem and feelings of worry and anxiety.
For the study, Finnish researchers found individuals with the highest folate intake had a 50 percent lower risk for melancholic depressive symptoms than those with the lowest intake. In addition, those with the highest vitamin B12 levels, were three times less likely to suffer melancholic depressive symptoms than those with the lowest levels. What’s more, the risk for the metabolic syndrome was twofold among those with non-melancholic depressive symptoms.