Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Supplements Can Lessen Depression in Nursing Homes

Depression is a common condition in our society as a whole. There are however certain segments of our population that are more likely to suffer from depression than others.

In today's blog, I'll highlight a recent study that indicates that a simple nutritional-supplement may help to lessen depressive symptoms in older people living in nursing homes. But, as is often the case, we may be able to apply these findings to other segments of society that aren't in residential homes as well.

What's the scoop on this study?

It's estimated that about one-third of nursing home residents suffer from depression. This not only impacts their quality-of-life but it likely affects their overall health status.

There is some evidence that indicates that certain nutrients (like vitamin C, selenium and folic acid) may play a role in depressive symptoms in other age-groups.

So, the researchers of this study set out to find if supplementing with these three nutrients could help to improve the mood of these depressed elderly subjects.

More details please ...

The researchers found that 29% of the subject-pool suffered from depression and 24% suffered from anxiety - at the beginning of the study.

Their testing found that depression was associated with sub-optimal levels of selenium. And, when supplementation was provided (for eight weeks) symptoms of depression were significantly reduced. As expected, blood levels of selenium also increased after supplementation.

It appears that those who suffered from more severe depression, as assessed by a test called the Hospital Anxiety and Depression rating scale (HAD), benefited the most from selenium supplementation.

It's important to note that vitamin C was also found to be deficient in 67% of the test subjects. But, it doesn't appear that vitamin C or folic acid played a direct role in the mood of these senior citizens.

What's the take home message?

It's important to protect ourselves and our families from nutrient deficiencies. In this case, we can see how an inexpensive supplement can help improve the health and outlook of an often neglected population.

Also, it's important to note that periodic nutrient-testing is an invaluable tool. A deficiency of vitamin C (or virtually any other nutrient) can have serious ramifications.

Generally speaking, I believe that all patients in nursing homes should (at a minimum) be taking a high-potency multi-nutrient formula. This is especially important because of a less than optimal diet (and impaired digestion) that often occur at this age and in that type of setting.

One nutrient I wished they had also tested for, in this study, is vitamin D. In future blogs, I'll explore the exciting research that's been accumulating about this vital (and often deficient) nutrient.

In the meantime, here's a link for the study I summarized. Check it out!

Supplements May Improve Depression in Nursing Homes

The Vitamin Tutor

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