Intakes of folate, vitamin B6 and B12 and risk of depression in community-dwelling older adults: the Quebec Longitudinal Study on Nutrition and Aging

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2016 Mar;70(3):380-5. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2015.202. Epub 2015 Dec 9.


Background/objectives: Depression can decrease quality of life and affect health outcomes in older population. We investigated whether different intake levels of folate, vitamin B6 and B12 were associated with a 3-year depression incidence among generally healthy, community-dwelling older men and women.

Subjects/methods: Participants in the Québec Longitudinal Study on Nutrition and Aging (NuAge), free of depression (that is, 30-item Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) <11) at baseline (N=1368; 74 ± 4 years old; 50.5% women), were screened annually for incident depression (GDS ⩾ 11) or antidepressant medication. Tertiles of intakes (food only and food+supplements) were obtained from the mean of three non-consecutive 24-h recalls at baseline. Sex-stratified multiple logistic regression models were adjusted for age, physical activity, physical functioning, stressful life events and total energy intake.

Results: Over 3 years, 170 participants were identified as depressed. Women in the highest tertile of B6 intake from food were 43% less likely to become depressed when adjusting for demographic and health factors (multivariate odds ratio (OR) 0.57, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.39-0.96), but adjustment for energy intake attenuated the effect. Men in the highest tertile of dietary B12 intake had decreased risk of depression (energy-adjusted multivariate OR 0.42, 95% CI 0.20-0.90). No other association was observed.

Conclusions: This study provides some evidence of decreased depression risk among women with higher intakes of vitamin B6 from food, which was dependent on total energy intake, and among men with higher intakes of B12 from food, independently of energy intake.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Homes for the Aged
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Quality of Life
  • Quebec
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin B 12 / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin B 6 / administration & dosage*


  • Vitamin B 6
  • Folic Acid
  • Vitamin B 12