Lack of Nutrition & Depression

Depression and certain nutrition deficiencies may coincide

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) What happens when the body doesn’t get its recommended daily dose of nutrients? Depression, sadness or moodiness may occur.

A recent study compared zinc, folate and magnesium levels in women to their mental health states.

Researchers found that a diet lacking zinc, magnesium and folate was associated with depressive illness in women. But what does this mean?

"A proper diet does pay off."

Felice, N. Jacka, PhD, Associate Professor of psychiatry at Deakin University in Australia, led an investigation into the links between nutrition and depression and anxiety in women.

For the study, 1,046 women aged 20-93 were recruited from 1994-1997 from an ongoing study.

A questionnaire was used to assess the kinds of diets the women were eating over the last 12 months. They were asked to rate the frequency of eating 74 different foods and six alcoholic beverages.

Each participant was given a Structured Clinical Interview to assess for major depressive disorder, depression and anxiety disorders.

Researchers were looking for levels of magnesium, folate and zinc in the diet to compare to mental health status.

Of all the women tested, 70 percent met the recommended daily intake (RDI) for zinc (8mg/day), 26 percent met the RDI for magnesium (320mg/day) and only 8 percent med the RDI for folate (400μ/day).

A total of 118 women tested positive for depressive and/or anxiety disorders.

Women with diets higher in zinc, magnesium and folate were less likely to have depressive illnesses.  

On the other hand, women with lower zinc and magnesium intakes had higher scores for mental health problems on the psychological questionnaire.

There were no links found between zinc, folate, magnesium and anxiety disorders.

Dr. Jacka said, "We hope that mental health professionals will encourage their patients to consume a diet high in nutrient-dense foods, such as leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts and lean red meats from grass fed animals, as we believe that good diet quality is important for mental health."

This study will be published in the December issue of the Journal of Affective Disorders. Funding for this study was provided by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and Eli Lilly. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 28, 2012
Last Updated:
September 1, 2012