Researchers from the Kuopio University Hospital in Finland monitored 115 outpatients, suffering from depression, over a six-month period, and grouped them according to how well they responded to treatment: not at all; partially; or fully. By measuring the level of vitamin B12 in the patients' blood when they first came to the clinic and again at their six-month check up, the researchers could calculate whether the level of the vitamin influenced patient outcome.
The patients who responded fully to treatment had higher concentrations of vitamin B12 in their blood at both the start and the end of the study than those for whom treatment was less effective. The association of the level of vitamin B12 and the responsiveness to treatment remained significant even when other factors such as smoking and drinking habits, type of treatment received, and whether other family members had suffered from depression were taken into account.
The scientists said: "As far as we know, there have been no previous studies that have suggested a positive relationship between vitamin B12 and the treatment outcome in patients with major depressive disorder who have normal or high vitamin B12 levels".
A previous study showed that elderly patients with depression responded better to treatment if they took a supplement containing vitamins B1, B2 and B6. This supplement indirectly increased the level of vitamin B12 in these patients' blood. This new study supports the idea that taking vitamin B supplements may help people respond positively to anti-depressants.
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High vitamin B12 level and good treatment outcome may be associated in major depressive disorder
Jukka Hintikka, Tommi Tolmunen, Antti Tanskanen and Heimo Viinamaki
BMC Psychiatry 2003, 3:17
Published 2nd December 2003
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