Washington: People who have suffered
a stroke and who regularly take vitamins are less likely to
develop depression, a new study has found.
An international team, led by University of Western
Australia, has said this was the first time researchers had
been able to demonstrate unequivocally that they could reduce
the risk of clinically significant depressive symptoms after a
"Previous work had suggested that certain vitamins
could have a role in preventing depression. However, we found
that the stroke survivors who took daily folic acid, vitamin
B6 and B12 were half as likely to become depressed.
"This is an important finding, as depression is
common in stroke survivors - one in three stroke sufferers is
affected. We were hoping to find a way to prevent unnecessary
suffering and the onset of depression.
"These results open access to a safe, effective
and affordable way to manage their risk of depression after
stroke," Professor Osvaldo Almeida, who led the team, said.
Professor Almeida said previous research had found
that B-vitamins could alter the concentration of homocysteine,
an amino acid. High concentrations of this amino acid had
been linked to depression.
But he cautioned people with pre existing
cardiovascular disease against taking high dosages of
B-vitamins. "Taking high doses of B-vitamins has not been
adequately studied and may not result in a protective effect.
In fact, there is some evidence that the use of these vitamins
may cause cardiovascular problems in some circumstances.
"So people who are considering using these vitamins
should discuss these issues with their doctor. The protective
effect of these vitamins only became apparent after about six
years of regular treatment.
"We suspect that this may be due to a slow and gradual
change in the vascular system, but further research is require
before we can be absolutely sure. At this stage, we cannot
extrapolate these benefits to non-stroke survivors," Professor
The research was part of a major 12-year
study that looked at the effects of B vitamins in preventing
further strokes in stroke survivors, the findings of which are
published in the `Annals of Neurology` journal.