Monday, March 10, 2008

Folic acid, depression, and Prozac

Folic acid is clearly essential for brain and nervous system health.

When animals are depressed, they have a delayed response to stressful situations. Researchers in this study reported that rats given folic acid who were then forced to swim (a standard test for depression in lab rats, believe it or not!) started swimming sooner than rats who did not receive the supplement.

Folic acid also seemed to promote a synergistic effect with fluoxetine (Prozac), meaning in the presence of folic acid, Prozac was more effective. What this finding has the potential to translate that if you DO need an antidepressant, eating well (or at least taking a multivitamin at the same time)may reduce the dose of the medication you actually need, which in turn reduces the potential for side effects. And side effects are a major reason why people do not maintain compliance with their psychotropic medications.

This seems like it's too simple to be true. But the reality is, when you're depressed, you may not feel like making the effort to eat well. Or, you grab something quick and easy (and likely low in essential vitamins/minerals and high in the wrong kind of fats), which only worsens the depression. If you have time to do only one thing a day that is just for YOU...make it eating well.

Whether it's a Flintstones or a One A Day, consider a multi as an essential part of your mental health bag of tricks!

Brocardo PS, Budni J, Kaster MP, Santos AR, Rodrigues AL. Folic acid administration produces an antidepressant-like effect in mice: Evidence for the involvement of the serotonergic and noradrenergic systems. Neuropharmacology. 2008 Feb;54(2):464-73. Epub 2007 Nov 5.


Gianna said...

Lamictal depletes folic acid---anyone taking Lamictal should supplement.

hormonewoman said...

Gianna, thank you for taking the time to leave a comment! I just went to Pub Med and couldn't find the reference. Do you happen to have it handy?



Gianna said...

it's in the PDR...I know that...I've been on Lamictal for years...just collected knowledge.

I wish I could pick your brain about my hormonal problems. I was diagnosed bipolar because of hormonal problems. It's clear to me now that I'm not bipolar.

I'm withdrawing from psych meds, but my pre-menstrual symptoms are still bad. I think the drugs I've taken over the years have made the hormonal issues worse.

I have informally studied nutrition intensely for the last year in a half and have made a switch to treating my situation nutritionally....withdrawal though is very hard on the body so I'm having difficulties even with an excellent diet and supplementation.

okay...too much can look at my blog if you are much more med-friendly than I am. I'm angry at how incapacitated they made me.

It was nice to stumble upon your blog.

hormonewoman said...


You can contact me privately at Maybe I can get you set up with some qualified help through my network.

I'm glad you stumbled on me too! :)


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