The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    B vitamins fail to prevent depression

    Researchers from the University of Western Australia in Crawley examined whether vitamins B-12, B-6, and folate might reduce the severity of depressive symptoms and the incidence of clinically significant depression.

    First, the details.

    • 299 elderly men, free of clinically significant depression were randomly assigned to take B-12 400 mcg + folic acid 2 mg + B-6 25 mg per day or placebo for 2 years.
    • The Beck Depression Inventory [BDI] score was the primary outcome measured.

    And, the results.

    • There was no significant difference in BDI scores between the groups.
    • Participants taking the vitamins were 24% more likely to remain free of depression, but the difference between the groups was not statistically significant.
    • At the end of the study, 84% of men treated with vitamins and 79% of those treated with placebo remained free of depressive symptoms.
    • B12, folate, and homocysteine blood levels were similar in men with and without depression.

    The bottom line?
    The authors concluded, “Treatment with B-12, folic acid, and B-6 is no better than placebo at reducing the severity of depressive symptoms or the incidence of clinically significant depression over a period of 2 years in older men.”

    In contrast to this, Dr. Daniel Hill-Flavin, a psychiatrist from St. Louis, Missouri writing on tells us that in an earlier study of more than 3000 older adults with vitamin B-12 deficiency, depressive symptoms were more common compared to seniors who were not deficient in vitamin B-12. However, the reason for this was unclear.

    The groups in theses studies weren’t identical. But in treating any disease, it’s important to correct underlying abnormalities that might contribute (even a small amount) to the main diagnosis.

    It’s possible that the absence of a B-12 deficiency at the start of the most recent study was a factor in the “lack of response” to the vitamins.

    8/22/08 14:45 JR

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