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Home / Health / Emotional Health / Depressed? You May Need Folate

 

Have you ever gotten a fever? Afterwards do you say you are a “fever survivor”? Mostly likely not, because you are aware that the fever is just a symptom caused by something deeper whether it be a virus or bacteria; and that it will eventually go away. In a society that thrives on labels and treats them like a badge of honor, it’s important to note that some conditions are not diseases; rather they are indicators of a deeper underlying problem or imbalance. In the same manner, depression is not a disease, it’s a symptom. Depression can be a symptom of folate deficiency.

Why Depression Happens

There are many reasons why depression occurs and there are also different forms. There is depression caused by an external crisis, trauma, or situation, depression that is due to toxic overload, depression that stems from imbalanced gut flora, elevated copper levels, hypoglycemia,  and much more. When it comes to nutrients there has been research surrounding several nutrients that may be key in the prevention of and in the recovery from depression. Folate or B9, is one nutrient that has been researched in connection with depression, as around one third of all people with depression have low folate levels. There are many nutrients involved in the process of producing neurotransmitters, some of which are feel-good chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine. One of the most important nutrient groups is the B Vitamins, to which folate belongs.

“Along with vitamins B6 and B12, folate helps break down the amino acid homocysteine,” (Harvard, 2007). Homocysteine is an amino acid found in blood plasma, and high levels of it are believed to increase the chance of heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and osteoporosis. Folate can be critical in treating some cases of depression because it helps to increase serotonin levels, increases production of stress hormones, dopamine which controls the pleasure center of the brain, and melatonin, needed for restful sleep.

Although low folate affects around one-third of those depressed, not all will respond favorably to folate supplementation. Some people carry a variant gene that prevents them from making full use of the folate in their diet and research suggests that this gene is associated with schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder. The people who respond the best to folate supplementation are usually those who get less relief from taking antidepressants. And also includes those whose methylation cycle is in overdrive. What is methylation? Imagine billions of little on/off switches inside your body that control everything from your stress response and how your body makes energy from food, to your brain chemistry and detoxification. That in a nutshell is methylation and demethylation. Some characteristics of individuals who fit into this category include: non-competitive, have dry eyes, high anxiety, low libido, may have sleep disorder, hyperactive, deal with neck / head pain, estrogen intolerant, underachievers at school, and have a high pain threshold.

How Much Folate Should You Take?

When taking folate for depression it will most likely not be necessary to take more than a daily multivitamin that includes the recommended daily value of 400 mcg per day for adults, 600 mcg per day for pregnant women.  Folate should be consumed with food, and should not be taken if you are taking medications for the treatment of seizures. Apart from that, doses much higher than the daily recommended allowance—up to 15 mg a day—haven’t been shown to cause serious side effects.  In addition to any supplementation of any nutrient that the body may need, exercise is the number one recommended intervention for those experiencing depression and can immediately improve mood if performed daily. Other important interventions for depression that may be useful include vitamin D, B12, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotic and prebiotic foods to balance gut flora, and chromium.

It’s very important to consult with your doctor if you are currently taking medications to ensure additional supplementation will not interfere with your current doses. If you, or someone you know is suffering from depression, make sure you consult with a practitioner to find the right interventions for you. The great news is, you are not alone, and nutrition can offer excellent support to preventing and recovering from depression.

References:

Corey, M. (2015, April 09). Methylation: Why It Matters For Your Immunity, Inflammation & More. Retrieved February 20, 2018, from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-18245/methylation-why-it-matters-for-your-immunity-inflammation-more.html

Hunninghake, R., Dr., Zauderer, A., Dr., & Riordan Clinic. (2016, November 16). Molecular Basis for Depression. Retrieved February 20, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZu35pG4AhI

Folate for depression. (2007). The Harvard Mental Health Letter, 23(9), 5.

Lipski, L., Dr. (2015). Anxiety & Depression. Retrieved February 20, 2018, from https://learn.muih.edu/courses/6181/pages/module-2-affective-disorders-overview?module_item_id=164924

 

 
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