This Vitamin May Lift Your Mood
Researchers from the International Medical Center of Japan in Tokyo recently found that folate may help men avoid depression.
Their findings were published in the January 2009 issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is found naturally in a variety of foods including leafy green vegetables, dried beans, lentils and peas. The man-made version of folate is called folic acid and it can be found in supplement form and as an additive in foods like bread, cereal and grains.
The study included 530 participants aged 21-67 years, 60% of whom were men. The participants took a health survey and depressive symptoms were measured using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CES-D) scale.
The researchers found an impressive 50% reduction in depressive symptoms for men with the highest levels of folate compared to those with the lowest levels.
They also found that increased levels of the amino acid homocysteine were associated with an increased risk of depressive symptoms in men.
Interestingly, neither folate nor homocysteine were associated with depressive symptoms in women.
Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and according to the World Health Organization, in 20 years it will affect more people than any other health problem.
Folate has also been shown to reduce the risk of birth defects, stroke and hearing loss. The way you cook and store your food determines how much folate you get through your diet.
Here are few helpful tips for maximizing your folate consumption:
1. Boil vegetables in a small amount of water and do not overcook
2. Steam, microwave or stir-fry vegetables instead of boiling
3. Refrigerate fruits and vegetables
4. Consume fruits and vegetables soon after purchase because folate is lost from foods over time
5. Take a folic acid supplement