Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid) and depression
Depression is the most common symptom of a folic acid deficiency. Folic acid deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in the world. In studies of depressed patients, thirty-one to thirty-five percent have been shown to be deficient in folic acid. In elderly patients, this percentage may be even higher. Studies have found that, among elderly patients admitted to a psychiatric ward, the number of patients with folic acid deficiency ranges from 35 percent to 92.6 percent.
In a preliminary study of depressed patients conducted by the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston researchers found that high levels of homocysteine can potentially damage the brain by two paths. First, by increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease, which can impair blood function to the brain. Second, homocysteine is converted to an amino acid that stimulates brain cell receptors at normal levels, but can cause the cells to self-destruct at excess levels. Blood analyses of twenty-seven elderly patients showed a link between high levels of homocysteine and vascular disease. It was also found that those patients with no vascular disease but who scored lowest on cognitive tests had high homocysteine levels.
Excellent sources of folic acid include brusseles sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, oranges, orange juice, bananas, liver, eggs, whole meal bread and fortified cereal. Behavioral effects of Folic acid deficiency: forgetfulness, insomnia, apathy, irritability, depression, psychosis, delirium, and dementia.