Folic acid intake possibly related to depressive symptoms.




Journal of Nutrition

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Folic acid occurs in a wide variety of foods. Best sources include dark green leafy vegetables, brewer's yeast, liver and eggs. Other good sources are beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, orange juice, cabbage, cauliflower, cantaloupe, kidney and lima beans, wheat germ, and whole grain cereals and breads. The body's "friendly" intestinal bacteria also produce folic acid.

Folic acid is a member of the water-soluble B vitamin group. Isolated in 1946 from spinach leaves, its name comes from folium, the Latin word for leaf. In the body, folic acid is converted to a more biologically active form. Like vitamin B12, folic acid is necessary for the production of both DNA and RNA. It is therefore essential for proper cellular division and the transmission of the genetic code to all newly formed cells. It is also essential for the health of red blood cells and the production of proteins and various amino acids.

A recent study stated that low levels of folate have been detected in those with depression. This current study however, examined the intake of folic acid and its association to depressive symptoms. In addition, the researchers also tracked the intake of B vitamins. In Finland, 2,682 men were recruited for this study and their depressive symptoms were assessed. Then these men were divided into 3 groups depending on their folic acid intake. After adjustments for alcohol intake, smoking, appetite, and fat consumption among others, the results found that the group with the lowest intake of folic acid had a higher risk of depressive symptoms. However, the researchers did not find any link to B vitamin intake. In conclusion, the authors stated that nutrition may have a role in depression.1


1. Tolmunen T. Dietary Folate and Depressive Symptoms are Associated in Middle-aged Finnish Men. J Nutr. Oct 2003;133:3233-3236.