Overcome Depression with Folic Acid (Folate)
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Depression is a common symptom of folate deficiency. Folic Acid is associated with depression, moods, apathy, cognitive function, dementia and a lack of motivation. Researchers found folate deficiencies in up to 31 percent of psychiatric patients studied.
Folate occurs naturally in green leafy vegetables. Folic acid is man made, however both work just the same. The elderly are at a particular risk for deficiencies, possibility due to aging, poor diet, malabsorption, drugs or increased demand.
Folic Acid, a B vitamin, plays a critical role in the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is involved in memory, long-term planning and mental focus.
There are particles in the protein that we eat known as amino acids. One particular amino acid known as methionine is dependant on folic acid to break down (metabolize) properly. It also requires vitamin B6 and B12. When folic acid and these other B vitamins are not available, methionine converts excessively to another amino acid called homocysteine.
Homocysteine is an excitotoxin that can destroy brain cells, clog arteries and results in depression. Homocysteine is also associated with Alzheimer’s disease and causes damage to brain cell receptors known as the NMDA receptors.
A recent study showed a strong correlation between poor memory with even a normal level of homocysteine if it was in the higher range. Blood levels of homocysteine rise with age.
A study of over three thousand individuals found that those who had folate levels in the upper half of the values had significantly better memory than those in the lower half.
Folic Acid is also necessary in the synthesis of another natural molecule in the brain called S-Adenosyl methionine or SAMe. This substance is a natural antidepressant and is available as a supplement. Learn more about it here.
In one study (Brocker et al) fifty deficient subjects given folic acid, some patients were strikingly trans formed into independent competent people. Another eight-week study (Passari et al) of ninety-six elderly depressed patients reported 50 milligrams daily were as effective as the standard anti depressant trazodone.
Other recent studies of healthy adults 50-70 years old show that 800 micrograms of folic acid improved memory, information processing and slowed decline in muscle skills.
Do not take folate alone. It can mask a serious vitamin B12 deficiency. Folic acid requires balancing with vitamin B12. The best natural form of vitamin B12 is methylcobalamin. Do not use a form known as cyanocobalamin.
The recommended daily allowance for folic acid is 400 micrograms. Most practitioners consider this amount inadequate. Recommended does vary from 400 mcg to 5 milligrams and more. It is important that 1000 mcg to 5000 mcg of vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin) be taken with folic acid.
One practitioner (Atkins) has reported that doses of 5mg of folic acid and 500 mcg of B12 failed to lower homocysteine in one third of the subjects in a trial. Evidently, more is required.
In addition, it is wise to take all of the eleven B vitamins at the same time. They work together synergistically and using them all at once prevents deficiencies of the others. Learn more about this here.
Nothing on this site is a replacement for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or health care provider.