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Gerontology. 2008;54(5):292-9. doi: 10.1159/000131886. Epub 2008 May 8.

Effect of micronutrient supplementation on mood in nursing home residents.

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Institute of Health Sciences, University of Reading, Reading, UK. m.a.gosney@reading .


One third of older people in nursing and/or residential homes have significant symptoms of depression. In younger people, deficiencies in selenium, vitamin C and folate are associated with depression. This study examines the association between micronutrient status and mood before and after supplementation. The objective was to determine whether the administration of selenium, vitamin C and folate improved mood in frail elderly nursing home residents. Mood was assessed using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression rating scale (HAD), and Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS). Micronutrient supplementation was provided for 8 weeks in a double-blinded randomised controlled trial. Significant symptoms of depression (29%) and anxiety (24%) were found at baseline. 67% of patients had low serum concentrations of vitamin C, but no-one was below the reference range for selenium. Depression was significantly associated with selenium levels, but not with folate or vitamin C levels. No individual with a HAD depression score of >or=8, had selenium levels >1.2 microM. In those patients with higher HAD depression scores, there was a significant reduction in the score and a significant increase in serum selenium levels after 8 weeks of micronutrient supplementation. Placebo group scores were unchanged. This small study concluded that depression was associated with low levels of selenium in frail older individuals. Following 8 weeks of micronutrient supplementation, there was a significant increase in selenium levels and improved symptoms of depression occurred in a subgroup.

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