Depressive Symptoms in Middle-Aged and Elderly Women Are Associated with a Low Intake of Vitamin B6: A Cross-Sectional Study.

Nutrients. 2020;12(11)
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Depression and anxiety are common mental disorders, which are more prominent in women undergoing menopause. Large hormonal fluctuations are thought to be the driving factor, however treatments for this may have side effects such as heart disease and cancer. Interest in complementary therapies has increased and associations between several nutrients and mental health disorders has been reported, however their affects in perimenopausal and post-menopausal women is still unknown. This cross-sectional study of 289 women aged 40 and over aimed to look at associations between dietary nutrient consumption and anxiety/depressive symptoms. The results showed that over half of the women reported some symptoms of anxiety or depression. Of the 43 nutrients examined, only decreased vitamin B6 intake was associated with symptoms of moderate-severe depression but not symptoms of anxiety. It was concluded that moderate to severe depressive symptoms were associated with a lower dietary intake of vitamin B6. However, it should be noted that dietary intake and not serum levels were used to make associations. This study could be used by healthcare professionals to recommend increased dietary vitamin B6 intake for symptoms of moderate to severe depression in women aged 40 or over.


This study investigated the nutritional factors that are associated with anxiety and depressive symptoms in Japanese middle-aged and elderly women. We conducted a cross-sectional study with 289 study participants aged ≥40 years (mean age = 52.0 ± 6.9 years). Their dietary habits, menopausal status and symptoms, and varied background factors, such as body composition, lifestyle factors, and cardiovascular parameters, were assessed. Their anxiety and depressive symptoms were evaluated using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), where scores of 0-7 points, 8-10 points, and 11-21 points on either the anxiety or depression subscales were categorized as mild, moderate, and severe, respectively. The dietary consumption of nutrients was assessed using a brief self-administered diet history questionnaire. The relationships between the moderate-to-severe anxiety/depressive symptoms and the dietary intake of 43 major nutrients were investigated using multivariate logistic regression analyses. After adjusting for age, menopausal status, and the background factors that were significantly related to depressive symptoms, moderate and severe depression was significantly inversely associated with only vitamin B6 (adjusted odds ratio per 10 μg/MJ in vitamin B6 intake = 0.89, 95% confidence interval = 0.80-0.99). A higher intake of vitamin B6 could help relieve depressive symptoms for this population.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Hormonal
Patient Centred Factors : Mediators/Menopause
Environmental Inputs : Diet ; Nutrients
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Nutrition
Functional Laboratory Testing : Not applicable

Methodological quality

Jadad score : Not applicable
Allocation concealment : Not applicable
Publication Type : Journal Article


Nutrition Evidence keywords : Vitamin B6 ; Nutrients ; Dietary intake