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Effect of folic acid supplementation on mood and serotonin response in healthy males

  • Emma Williams (a1), Barbara Stewart-Knox (a1), Ian Bradbury (a2), Ian Rowland (a1), Kristina Pentieva (a1), Anders Helander (a3) and Helene McNulty (a1)...
Abstract

Evidence suggests that low folate status may be detrimental to mood and associated with depleted cerebrospinal fluid levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT). A placebo-controlled trial was carried out to determine the effect of folic acid supplementation (100 μg for 6 weeks followed by 200 μg for a further 6 weeks) upon subjective mood (Positive and Negative Affect Schedule) and biochemical markers of mood (5-HT) in healthy males (n 23). Blood samples were obtained at baseline (week 0) and during the intervention at week 6 and week 12. Subjective mood assessments were obtained at week 0 and week 12. The results showed an increase in serum and erythrocyte folate concentrations (P=0·02 and P=0·003, respectively) and a corresponding decrease in plasma homocysteine (P=0·015) in response to the folic acid intervention. Neither subjective mood nor 5-HT levels, however, were significantly altered in response to the change in folate status. Folic acid given at physiological doses did not appear to improve the mood of healthy folate-replete individuals over a 12-week period. Further research is needed to address the effect of folic acid supplementation or of longer duration or increased dose, particularly in the face of sub-optimal folate status.

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Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Dr Barbara Stewart-Knox, fax +44 28 70324965, email b.knox@ulster.ac.uk
References
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British Journal of Nutrition
  • ISSN: 0007-1145
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