Health Matters

Connecting you to the sources of health.

Nutrition and Depression: Nutrition, Neuronal Protection, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Vitamin D and Depression, Part 3

Do Omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D affect depression?

Neuronal protection (protection against cognitive decline) requires glutathione peroxidase (a crucial enzyme which requires selenium, cysteine, carotenoids, zinc, and vitamin E) is an important aspect of the treatment of mood disorders both because they tend to be recurrent over one's life, and because they are associated with neuronal loss in specific parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus. R-lipoic acid, vitamin C and omega 3 fatty acids are also critical to neuronal protection.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Vitamin D, and Depression

There are numerous studies of the efficacy of omega 3 EFA's in depression. A recent large-scale (33,000) cohort of Swedish women (12) found that "a frequent consumption of fish, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids appears to reduce the risk of positive psychotic-like symptoms. Interestingly, they found a lower rate of psychotic-like symptoms with increasing vitamin D intake." It is unclear what the optimal dose of Omega 3's is, and while it is thought that EPA is better for mood disorders, this is not clear yet.

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

In a cross-sectional study (13) of older adults (N=80), vitamin D deficiency was associated with low mood and with impairment on two of four measures of cognitive performance. After adjusting for age, race, gender, and season of vitamin D determination, vitamin D deficiency was associated with presence of an active mood disorder (p = 0.022).

 

References:
1) Rush, AJ. STAR-D: What have we learned? Am J Psychiatry. 2007;164-201
2) Pigott, et al. Efficacy and Effectiveness of Antidepressants: Current Status:Psychother Psychosom. 2010;79(5):267-79.
3) Bourre, JM: J. Nutrition, Health & Aging: Vol 10(5) 2006: 377-385. Effects of nutrients (in food) on the structure and function of the nervous system: update on dietary requirements for brain: Part 1: micronutrients.
4)Miller HL :et al.: Clinical and biochemical effects of catecholamine depletion on antidepressant-induced remission of depression. Arch Gen Psychiatry. Vol.53( 2):117-128.
5) Spillmann MK. Et.al.; Tryptophan depletion in SSRI recovered depressed outpatients. Psychopharmacology (Berl)2001, May;155 (2):123-127
6) Maes M.,et al.:Hypozincemia in depression. J Affective Disorders; 31(2):13Maes M.: “Lower serum zinc in major depression is a sensitive marker of treatment resistance and of the immune/inflammatory response in that illness” Biol Psychiatry: 42(5):349-358 (1997). 5-140 (1994)
7)Maes M.Et.al.: Lower serum zinc in major depression in relation to changes in serum acute phase proteins. J. Affect Disord 1999:56(2-3):189-194
8)Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase (MTHFR) Genetic Polymorphisms (C677T variant) and Psychiatric Disorders: A HuGE Review: Am J Epidemiol 2007;165:1–13
9)Coppen A, et al.: Enhancement of antidepressant action of fluoxetine by folic acid: a randomized, placebo controlled trial. J Affect Disord: 2000:60(Nov.):121-130
10)Rutten: Epigenetic Mediation of  Environmental influences in Major Psychotic Disorders Schizophrenia Bulletin; 2009: Vol 35 (6):1045-1056
11)McGowan: the epigenetics of social adversity in early life: Implications for mental health outcomes. Neurobiology of Disease (2010): In Press
12)Hedelin, M. Dietary Intake of Fish, Omega 3’s, Omega 6 PUFA’s and Vitamin D and the pPrevalence of Psychotic Symptoms in a Cohort of 33,000 Women from the General Population. BMC  Psychiatry 2010 (10): 38; 1-13
13)Wilkins CH., et al.: Vitamin D deficiency is associated with low mood and worse cognitive performance in older adults. Am J Geriatric Psychiatry, 2006 Dec;14(12):1032-40
14)Van Praag: Depression, glucose tolerance, peripheral glucose uptake and their alterations under the influence of anti-depressive drugs of the hydrazine type. Psychopharmacologia (Berlin) 1965;8:67-78.)
15)Cassidy, F. et.al.: Elevated Frequency of Diabetes Mellitus in Hospitalized Manic-Depressive Patients. Am J Psychiatry 1999;156 1417-1420.
16)Weiss JH., et.al.: Zn(+2): a novel ionic mediator of neural injury in brain disease. Trends Pharmacol Sci 2001: 21(12):112-3
17)Lindenbaum J. et.al.: Neuropsychiatric disorders caused by cobalamin deficiency in the absence of anemia or macrocytois. N Engl J Med 1988;318:1720-1728.
18)Vogiatzoglou, A. Determinants of Methylmalonic Acid in a Large Population: Implications for Assessment of Vitamin B12 Status. Clinical Chemistry (55)12: 2198-2206 (2009)

Robert J. Hedaya, M.D., D.F.A.P.A., is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Georgetown University Hospital and Founder of the National Center for Whole Psychiatry.

more...

Subscribe to Health Matters

Current Issue

Dreams of Glory

Daydreaming: How the best ideas emerge from the ether.