Although a favorable effect of dietary folate and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) on depression is suggested from epidemiologic studies in Western countries, evidence from non-Western populations is lacking. We examined cross-sectional associations between the intake of folate, other B vitamins, and omega-3 PUFAs and depressive symptoms in Japanese adults.
Subjects were 309 Japanese men and 208 Japanese women 21-67 y of age. Dietary intake was assessed with a validated, brief, self-administered diet history questionnaire. Depressive symptoms were defined as present when subjects had a Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale score > or =16. Adjustment was made for age, body mass index, work place, marital status, occupational physical activity, leisure-time physical activity, current smoking, current alcohol drinking, and job stress score.
The prevalences of depressive symptoms were 36% for men and 37% for women. Folate intake showed a statistically significant, inverse, and linear association with depressive symptoms in men but not in women. The multivariate odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) for depressive symptoms for men in the first, second, third, and fourth quartiles of folate intake were 1.00 (reference), 0.78 (0.38-1.63), 0.57 (0.27-1.18), and 0.50 (0.23-1.06), respectively (P for trend = 0.045). No statistically significant linear association was observed for the intake of riboflavin, pyridoxine, cobalamin, total omega-3 PUFAs, alpha-linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, or docosahexaenoic acid in either sex.
Higher dietary intake of folate was associated with a lower prevalence of depressive symptoms in Japanese men but not women.