In recent years, there has been growing interest in the association between national diet and the possibility of developing various mental disorders, as well as between deficiency of such vitamins as, e.g. folic acid, vitamin B12, B6, and others (e.g., omega-3 fatty acids), elevated serum homocysteine level and the functioning of human brain as well as the occurrence of such disorders as dementia, central nervous system vascular disorders and depression.
The aim of the study: was to present the current state of knowledge about the role of folic acid and homocysteine in the human organism as well as the significance of vitamin deficiency, mainly folic acid and hyperhomocysteinemy for the occurrence of mood disorders.
Method: The authors conducted the search of the Internet database Medline (www.pubmed.com) using as key words: depression, mood, homocysteine, vitamin deficiencies: folic acid, B6 and 812 and time descriptors: 1990-2007.
Results: In depression, folate, vitamins B12 and B6, as well as unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids deficiency affects the biochemical processes in the CNS, as folic acid and vitamin B12, participate in the metabolism of S-adenosylmethionine (SAM), a donator of methyl groups, which play a decisive role in the functioning of the nervous system; they are, among others, active in the formation of neurotransmitters (e.g. serotonin), phospholipids that are a component of neuronal myelin sheaths, and cell receptors. The deficiency of the vitamins in question results in hyperhomocysteinemia (the research shows that approximately 45-55% of patients with depression develop significantly elevated serum homocysteine), which causes a decrease in SAM, followed by impaired methylation and, consequently, impaired metabolism of neurotransmitters, phospholipids, myelin, and receptors. Hyperhomocysteinemia also leads to activation of NMDA receptors, lesions in vascular endothelium, and oxidative stress. All this effects neurotoxicity and promotes the development of various disorders, including depression. Vitamins B12 and B6, folic acid and omega-3 fatty acids supplementation is thus important in patients suffering from their deficiency; national diet as a significant factor in prevention of numerous CNS disorders, including depression, is also worth consideration.