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Nutrition and Depression: the Role of Folate

Jonathan E. Alpert M.D., Ph D, Maurizio Fava M.D.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.1997.tb06468.x 145-149 First published online: 1 May 1997


A relationship between folate and neuropsychiatric disorders has been inferred from clinical observation and from the enhanced understanding of the role of folate in critical brain metabolic pathways. Depressive symptoms are the most common neuropsychiatric manifestation of folate deficiency. Conversely, borderline low or deficient serum or red blood cell folate levels have been detected in 15–38% of adults diagnosed with depressive disorders. Recently, low folate levels have been linked to poorer antidepressant response to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Factors contributing to low serum folate levels among depressed patients as well as the circumstances under which folate and its derivatives may have a role in antidepressant pharmacotherapy must be further clarified.

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