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Association of folate intake with the occurrence of depressive episodes in middle-aged French men and women

  • Pierre Astorg (a1), Aline Couthouis (a2), Geneviève Potier de Courcy (a3), Sandrine Bertrais (a3), Nathalie Arnault (a3), Pierre Meneton (a4), Pilar Galan (a3) and Serge Hercberg (a3)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 July 2008

A low folate intake or a low folate status have been found to be associated with a higher frequency of depression in populations, but the existence and the direction of a causal link between folate intake or status and depression is still uncertain. The aim of this study was to seek the relation between the habitual folate intake in middle-aged men and women and the occurrence of depressive episodes. In a subsample of 1864 subjects (809 men and 1055 women) from the French SU.VI.MAX cohort, dietary habits have been measured at the beginning of the follow-up (six 24 h records) and declarations of antidepressant prescription, taken as markers of depressive episodes, have been recorded during the 8-year follow-up. No significant association was observed between folate intake and the risk of any depressive episode or of a single depressive episode during the follow-up, in both men and women. In contrast, the risk of experiencing recurrent depressive episodes (two or more) during the follow-up was strongly reduced in men with high folate intake (OR 0·25 (95 % CI 0·06, 0·98) for the highest tertile v. the lowest, P for trend 0·046). This association was not observed in women. These results suggest that a low folate intake may increase the risk of recurrent depression in men.

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*Corresponding author: P. Astorg, fax +33 1 34 65 23 11, email
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