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Multi-Vitamin May Have Multi Mood Impact

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You may be less likely to have symptoms of depression if you take a daily multi-vitamin- mineral supplement. That’s the finding of a new study from British researchers, writing in the journal Clinical Nutrition. (Published online ahead of print, doi:10.1016/j.cinu.2007.06.007.)

Their double-blind, placebo-controlled study looked at 225 older, hospitalized, acutely-ill people. Half the group was randomly assigned to receive a normal hospital diet plus a multi-vitamin-mineral that provided 100% of their daily needs. The other half got the hospital diet and a placebo. All completed a 15-question geriatric depression questionnaire and a short test of mental function before and after the six-week study.

Researchers found a significant improvement in depressive scores in the vitamin-supplemented group compared to the placebo group, regardless of a person’s initial level of depression. Symptoms of depression include problems with sleeping and appetite, loss of interest in usual activities, feelings of fatigue and worthlessness, diminished ability to think or concentrate, and, sometimes, recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.

These researchers focused on folic acid and vitamin B12 as the two nutrients most likely to help lift depression. Some doctors recommend as much as 1,000 micrograms daily of each of these to treat depression. But, in fact, many nutrients, especially trace minerals, are involved in normal brain function, and a multi-vitamin-mineral should be part of your anti-depression arsenal.

Taking one to four grams of fish oil daily also has proven helpful in relieving symptoms of anxiety, sleeping problems, sadness, decreased sexual desire, and suicidal tendencies. And the herb Gingko Biloba, used mainly for age-related mental decline, can also lead to improvement in mood. Researchers speculate that it may block an age-related loss of serotonin receptors. (Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that’s low in depression.) And don’t forget exercise, which is also a proven mood-raiser. Unless you’re confined to a hospital bed, there is always some type of exercise you can do that will help.

If you think you are depressed, it’s best to talk with your doctor. While these nutritional supplements may help to prevent depression on their own, they are also safely used with prescription antidepressants.

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