Vegetarianism Linked to Depression

Male vegetarians are at greater risk for depression than their meat-eating counterparts, new research suggests.

A National Institutes of Health (NIH) study of more than 9600 men showed that those who reported being vegetarians or vegans had significantly higher scores on a depression-measuring scale than nonvegetarians.

In addition, significantly more of the vegetarian/vegan group had a score >10 on the measure, signifying mild to moderate depression.

“Nutritional deficiencies (eg, in cobalamin or iron) are a possible explanation for these findings,” write the investigators.

Lead author Capt Joseph R. Hibbeln, MD, acting chief of the Section on Nutritional Neurosciences at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at the NIH, added that because red meat is rich in vitamin B12, that nutrient may have played a part in the results.

Capt Joseph R. Hibbeln, MD

“If someone chooses to be vegetarian or chooses to eat less meat, they should follow guideline recommendations to ensure they have a good vitamin B12 status,” Dr Hibbeln told Medscape Medical News.

The findings are published in the current issue of the Journal of Affective Disorders.

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