A review of 11 previous studies involving 15,315 participants by Dr Simon Gilbody and a team at York University (published in the July edition of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health) concluded that there was a link between depression and low folate levels.
Dr Gilbody said: ‘Our study is unique in that for the first time all the relevant evidence in this controversial area has been brought together. Although the research does not prove that low folate causes depression, we can now be sure that the two are linked. Interestingly, there is also some trial evidence that suggests folic acid supplements can benefit people with depression. ‘
Recent research from the same team published in the American Journal of Epidemiology has also proved that people with depression commonly have a gene that means that they process folate less efficiently. Folate is linked to the production of some of the ‘feel good' chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin. The identification of this gene provides a plausible explanation as to why folic acid supplements may help people with depression.
Contact: Dr. Simon Gilbody University of York
First Published January 2008
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