Folate status and depressive symptoms in reproductive-age women

Hiroko Watanabe*, Takashi Sugiyama, Hiromitsu Chihara, Hideoki Fukuoka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Folate is a water-soluble B-vitamin necessary for the proper biosynthesis of the monoamine neurotransmitters serotonin, epinephrine, and dopamine. Epidemiological and biological evidence suggests that low folate appears to be most closely linked to depressive disorders among individuals with epilepsy, people suffering from neurological and psychiatric problems, as well as the elderly. Folic acid influences the rate of synthesis of the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin and acts as a cofactor in the hydroxylation of phenylalanine and tryptophan. A disturbance of biogenic amine metabolism may lead to various psychiatric disorders. Folic acid deficiency may contribute to pathogenesis of neuropsychiatric disorders such as mental confusion, memory changes, cognitive slowing, and mood disorder. However, since almost all published studies have been conducted with the elderly or with persons with dementia disease, the effects of folate on the mental health of people of reproductive age are not yet known. Findings from this review suggest that low folate status can be a key factor in the expression of depressive symptoms. However, it is difficult to evaluate whether folate deficiency is a substantial contributor to depressive symptoms in reproductive-age women in scan data compared to the numerous data for older women. A critical goal is for women to make behavior changes for good nutritional status before, during, and beyond pregnancy, as this may lead to improved mental and physical health in later life for both themselves and their family members.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-102
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Nutrition and Food Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011 May


  • Depressive symptoms
  • Folate intake
  • Reproductive-age women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Food Science


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