Depression Related to Anemia and Levels of Vitamin B6 and Folate

Researchers have recently determined that anemia and levels of vitamin B6 and folate play a role in the development of depressive symptoms, according to a study published in September 2012. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that one in 10 U.S. adults report depression.

Investigators evaluated 1,371 elderly adults for levels of hemoglobin; serum iron levels; plasma vitamins B6, vitamin B12 and folate levels; erythrocyte transketolase activity (reduced in thiamine deficiency) and glutathione reductase activity (measured for oxidative stress). The subjects completed questionnaires regarding depressive symptoms.

The researchers determined that anemia and marginal B6 deficiency were significantly associated with the presence of depression symptoms. In addition, the investigators found that the co-occurrence of low vitamin B6 with low folate level, and co-occurrence of anemia either with low vitamin B6 or folate level were all associated with the depressive mood and with depressive emotions. Furthermore, the researchers showed that as the number of deficiencies increased, the likelihood of depressive symptoms also increased.

The investigators stated, “Elderly people with coexisting marginal deficiencies of nutrients involved in the S-adenosylmethionine [SAMe] and hemoglobin production were more likely to experience depressed mood and emotion that affect daily activity. Examining status of these nutrients is worthy of consideration for older adults with depressed symptoms.”


Pan WH, et al. J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol. 2012;3:170-8.

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