The deficiency of a known vitamin, which is most common in vegan diets, appears to lead to depression in middle-aged people, according to a new study.
The association between folic acid and vitamin B12 and how it is associated with a higher prevalence of depressive symptoms in older adults was investigated in the TILDA (Longitudinal Study on Aging) study from Ireland. They found that low vitamin B12 levels were associated with depressive symptoms.
For example, vegans who do not consume animal products that contain vitamin B12 should monitor the presence of the vitamin in the body. In addition, low B12 levels are common in many older adults.
In Ireland, one in eight older people has a B12 deficiency. A deficiency can lead to various disorders, such as anemia, decreased cognitive abilities, or damage to the protective myelin sheath that surrounds the nerve fibers in the brain.
The study involved individuals over 50 years of age whose folate and B12 levels were measured in plasma samples and monitored for depressive symptoms. The researchers found that people with a deficiency or low levels of B12 were 51% more likely to develop depressive symptoms over a 4-year period.
The main findings of the study:
Low B12 levels were associated with a significantly higher risk of developing depressive symptoms over a four-year period, but no such correlations were observed for folate. These results were confirmed even after testing relevant adaptation factors such as physical activity, the burden of chronic disease, vitamin D levels, cardiovascular disease, and antidepressant medication. Other factors affecting micronutrient levels in older adults are obesity, drug use, smoking, financial status, gender and place of residence. As you get older, your risk of developing depression decreases.
The researchers conclude that more action is needed to address dietary vitamin B12 deficiencies in order to improve the overall health of older adults.