April 17, 2024

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BJN: Vitamin B12 Deficiency May Increase Risk of Depression

BJN: Vitamin B12 Deficiency May Increase Risk of Depression


BJN: Vitamin B12 Deficiency May Increase Risk of Depression

Recently, a study was published in the international journal British Journal of Nutrition entitled “Low vitamin B12 but not folate is associated with incident depressive symptoms in community-dwelling older adults: a 4 year longitudinal study“, from Holy Trinity Dublin.


By conducting the Irish Longitudinal Study of Ageing (TILDA), scientists from a college and other institutions analysed the association between body folate and vitamin B12 status and greater prevalence of depressive symptoms in community-dwelling older adults.


Studies have shown that lower levels of vitamin B12 may be associated with symptoms of depression, but folic acid does not appear to be associated with depression.

The findings may provide information for older adults, public health and policymakers to better understand how to identify risks and take protective measures to enhance the health of those 50 and older.


Deficiencies and lower levels of B vitamins such as folic acid and vitamin B12 are highly present in older adults.

In Starving Geranium, one in eight older adults had lower levels of vitamin B12, while lower dietary intakes and lower blood levels were reported in all age groups in the Irish population.

Some of the adverse consequences of lower levels of vitamin B12 include megaloblastic anemia, impaired cognitive function, or damage to the protective myelin sheath that surrounds nerve fibers in the brain.

Therefore, it is important to understand the association between folate or vitamin B12 status and the occurrence of later depression in individuals, as depression is an important risk factor for functional decline, admission to hospital care, and early patient mortality.


For the study, the researchers used data from the TILDA program to correlate participants aged 50 and older who participated in the first wave of assessments that provided a combination of measured levels of folate and vitamin B12 in their plasma as well as Regarding their depression screening results, the researchers observed that those individuals who were vitamin B12 deficient were 51 percent more likely to experience depressive symptoms within 4 years.


The main findings of this study include:

1) Lower vitamin B12 status may be significantly associated with an individual’s increased risk of developing depressive symptoms within 4 years, but the investigators did not observe an association with folic acid;

2) These findings are robust even after controlling for relevant adjustment factors (such as physical activity, chronic disease burden, vitamin D status, cardiovascular disease, and antidepressant use);

3) Those individuals with insufficient vitamin B12 deficiency were 51% more likely to experience symptoms of depression within 4 years;

4) Other factors affecting the intake of micronutrients in the elderly include obesity, medication, smoking, wealth, gender and geographic location;

5) As the body ages, the risk of depression in individuals decreases;

6) Given the relationship between the high incidence of depression and vitamin B12 deficiency in the Irish elderly population, these findings may be relevant;

7) These observations may provide food policy makers with some assurance that fortifying foods to increase intake levels of these vitamins may potentially help at-risk populations prevent disease.


Researcher Dr Eamon Laird said that with the high incidence of depression among older people living in Ireland, especially with evidence that one in eight older people suffers from high levels of vitamin B12 deficiency, this study may have implications. high correlation.

There is momentum in Europe and the UK to introduce mandatory food fortification of B vitamins, especially mandatory food fortification of folic acid has shown positive results in the US, where folate deficiency and lower The rate for the horizontal state is only 1.2%.


BJN: Vitamin B12 Deficiency May Increase Risk of Depression

Image credit: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/low-vitamin-b12-but-not-folate-is-associated-with-incident-depressive-symptoms -in-communitydwelling-older-adults-a-4-year-longitudinal-study/B1EA518340197FA07B97FF04766F6E22


The dismissal of this study provides further reassurance for policymakers that food rigidity policies may offer a potential means of helping to effectively prevent symptoms of depression in older adults, through a breakfast rich in vitamin B12 and folic acid. cereals and other foods to improve the general health of the body.

The researchers say that TILDA provides a very rich breadth of data in its longitudinal datasets, which may provide a unique opportunity to conduct robust evidence-based research and discover important changes in a population over time.

In addition, the researchers analyzed a well-characterized population and included a wide range of confounding factors, such as chronic diseases, medications, lifestyle, and other nutritional blood biomarkers, to reveal robust findings; due to the impact of COVID-19 With loneliness and depression on the rise in many older adults after restrictions began, this study may underscore the importance of increasing vitamin B12 intake and supplementation to help mitigate potential risk factors for depression in older adults.


In conclusion, given the high prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency in the population, the results of this study are very important, and further research is needed to explore the cost-effectiveness of optimizing vitamin B12 status for depression in the elderly.





Eamon Laird, Aisling M. O’Halloran, Anne M Molloy, et al. Low vitamin B12 but not folate is associated with incident depressive symptoms in community-dwelling older adults: a 4 year longitudinal study, British Journal of Nutrition (2021). DOI: 10.1017/S0007114521004748

BJN: Vitamin B12 Deficiency May Increase Risk of Depression

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