Can Folic Acid Help Ease Depression?
Folic acid , also called folate, is famous for its role in preventing birth defects. But this B vitamin is also being researched for its effects on depression . A group of researchers from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts found that blood levels of folic acid were much lower among people with depression than in people who were not depressed. Findings like these have suggested a link between low folic acid levels and depression. If low levels of this vitamin lead to depressive symptoms, it seems logical to conclude that giving folic acid supplements to people with depression will help their recovery. However, research shows that the connection is not that simple.
Folic Acid and the BrainFolic acid, which is needed to make DNA and RNA, the building blocks of genes and an important component cells, is also quite active in the brain and central nervous system. It affects the production of certain essential compounds and neurotransmitters—substances that carry messages to different parts of the brain. For example, folic acid deficiency leads to lower levels of S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) in the brain. Some research has suggested that supplementation with SAMe can play a positive role in the treatment of depression. One possible theory is that low folic acid levels leads to low SAMe, which increases symptoms of depression. By improving folic acid status, SAMe increases, and depressive symptoms drop.