Food and Behaviour Research

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09 June 2010 - Nutraingredients - B vitamins may lead to happier seniors

by Stephen Daniells

FAB RESEARCH COMMENT:

This longitudinal study found that in older adults, higher intakes of several B vitamins predicted a lower prevalence of depressive symptoms over the following 7 years. 

This was a purely observational study, so as the authors point out, these findings cannot be taken as showing that the intake of B vitamins was actually responsible for the reduced risk of depressive symptoms (i.e. correlation is not causation).

However, these findings are consistent with a growing body of other evidence linking Vitamin B deficiencies with mental health problems in the elderly. There are also good theoretical grounds for such a link, given that numerous well-established properties of vitamins B6 and B12 offer mechanisms by which deficiencies could impair mood and other aspects of brain function.

Free full text of this research paper is available online. See:

Increased intakes of vitamins B6 and B12 may reduce the risk of seniors developing depressive symptoms, says a new study with 3500 Chicagoans.

For every 10mg increase in the intake of vitamin B6, and for every 10 microgram increase in vitamin B12, the risks of developing symptoms of depression were reduced by 2% per year, according to findings published int he AJCN.

The study adds to previous reports linking B vitamin intakes and a lower risk of depression. The World Health Organisation (WHO) forecasts that within 20 years more people will be affected by depression than any other health problem; it ranks depression as the leading cause of disability worldwide, with around 120 million people affected.