Skip to main content
ARS Home » News & Events » News Articles » Research News » 2004 » Depressed? "B" Sure To Get Enough Folate

Archived Page

This page has been archived and is being provided for reference purposes only. The page is no longer being updated, and therefore, links on the page may be invalid.

Depressed? "B" Sure to Get Enough Folate

By Rosalie Marion Bliss
April 7, 2004

Evidence is mounting of a connection between various stages of depression and low blood levels of the B vitamin folate, according to research funded by the Agricultural Research Service.

Epidemiologist Martha Savaria Morris and colleagues studied data based on a questionnaire given to 3,000 people aged 15 to 39 years. The data showed that individuals with either major or mild forms of depression had lower blood levels of folate than did those who had never been depressed. The researchers noted that low folate levels are known to be common in psychiatric patients and may hamper the effectiveness of antidepressant therapy.

Morris is with the Nutritional Epidemiology Program at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center (HNRCA) on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, Mass. The HNRCA is funded by ARS, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.

Folate is actually a family of related compounds that are naturally present in many foods, such as beef liver, green leafy vegetables and pinto, kidney and garbanzo beans. Its synthetic form, folic acid, is used by food processors to fortify enriched grain products, such as breakfast cereals, bread, pasta, flour and rice.

The recommended dietary allowance for folate is 400 micrograms daily for adult men and women. Significantly, different folates are absorbed by the body at different rates, and not all folate consumed is absorbed by the body. Alcohol, certain medications and anemia can reduce the body's ability to absorb and use folate.

Read more about this study in the April issue of Agricultural Research magazine.