Background: Several cross-sectional studies have focused on the low blood folate levels of depressive patients. Nevertheless, no prospective studies have been published on the association between dietary folate and depression. Methods: We studied the association between dietary folate and cobalamin and receiving a discharge diagnosis of depression in a prospective follow-up setting. Our cohort was recruited between 1984 and 1989 and followed until the end of 2000, and it consisted of 2,313 men aged between 42and 60 years from eastern Finland. Results: The mean intake of folate in the whole cohort was 256 µg/day (SD = 76). Those below the median of energy-adjusted folate intake had higher risk of getting discharge diagnosis of depression (RR 3.04, 95% CI: 1.58, 5.86) during the follow-up period than those who had a folate intake above the median. This excess risk remained significant after adjustment for current socioeconomic status, the baseline HPL depression score, the energy-adjusted daily intake of fibre and vitamin C, and the total fat intake. Conclusions: A low dietary intake of folate may be a risk factor for severe depression. This also indicates that nutrition may have a role in the prevention of depression.

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