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21 June 2010

B-vitamins may lead to happier seniors: Study

Increased intakes of vitamins B6 and B12 may reduce the risk of seniors developing depressive symptoms, says a new study with 3,500 Chicagoans.

For every 10 milligram increase in the intake of vitamin B6 and for every 10 microgram increase in vitamin B12 the risk of developing symptoms of depression were decreased by 2 per cent per year, according to findings published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The study adds to previous reports linking B vitamin intakes and a lower risk of depression. The World Health Organization (WHO) forecasts that within 20 years more people will be affected by depression than any other health problem; it ranks depression as the leading cause of disability worldwide, with around 120 million people affected.

Despite earlier reports on the potential anti-depressive benefits of the B vitamins, researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Illinois report that “very little prospective evidence from population-based studies of older adults”.

Study details

Led by Kimberly Skarupski, the researchers obtained data from 3,500 over 65 year-olds in Chicago. The volunteers were living in a normal community and were bi-racial with 59 per cent being African American. Dietary intakes were quantified using food frequency questionnaires and depressive symptoms were assessed using the 10-item version of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale.

Over an average of 7.2 years of follow-up, the researchers noted that increased intakes of vitamins B6 and B12 were associated with a “decreased likelihood of incident depression”. The intakes of the vitamins came from both food and supplements, said the researchers.

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