Co-occurrence of anemia, marginal vitamin B6, and folate status and depressive symptoms in older adults

J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol. 2012 Sep;25(3):170-8. doi: 10.1177/0891988712458365.


Although nutrient deficiencies are thought to play roles in the development of depression, observational studies have yielded inconsistent results. This study aimed to investigate whether multiple marginal nutrient deficiencies are associated with symptoms of depression in community-dwelling older Taiwanese. Data from 1371 elderly adults recruited from the Elderly Nutrition and Health Survey in Taiwan was used in this study. Depressive symptom scores on depressed mood and emotions affecting daily life were derived from the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form-36 (SF-36). Hemoglobin, serum ferritin, plasma vitamins B(6), B(12), and folate concentration, and erythrocyte transketolase and glutathione reductase activation coefficients were measured. After adjusting for age, gender, cognitive function, physical activity, disease history, and medication in the multivariate analysis, anemia, and marginal B(6) deficiency were significantly associated with the presence of depression symptoms, respectively. In addition, co-occurrence of vitamin B(6) with low folate level and co-occurrence of anemia either with low vitamin B(6) or with folate level were all associated with the depressive mood and with depressive emotions defined by SF-36 (odds ratios [OR] in the range of 2.32-7.13, all P values ≤.05). The magnitude of the ORs is larger when the number of deficiencies increased. Elderly people with coexisting marginal deficiencies of nutrients involved in the S-adenosylmethionine and hemoglobin production were more likely to experience depressed mood and emotion that affect daily activity. Examining status of these nutrients is worthy of consideration for older adults with depressed symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anemia / blood
  • Anemia / epidemiology*
  • Anemia / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / blood
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / blood
  • Folic Acid Deficiency / blood
  • Folic Acid Deficiency / epidemiology*
  • Folic Acid Deficiency / psychology
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods
  • Geriatric Assessment / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Status
  • Health Surveys / methods
  • Health Surveys / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutritional Status
  • Odds Ratio
  • Taiwan / epidemiology
  • Vitamin B 6 / blood
  • Vitamin B 6 Deficiency / blood
  • Vitamin B 6 Deficiency / epidemiology*
  • Vitamin B 6 Deficiency / psychology


  • Vitamin B 6
  • Folic Acid