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J Nutr. 2013 Jan;143(1):53-8. doi: 10.3945/jn.112.167007. Epub 2012 Nov 21.

Thiamine nutritional status and depressive symptoms are inversely associated among older Chinese adults.

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Key Laboratory of Nutrition and Metabolism, Institute for Nutritional Sciences, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China.


Thiamine has been hypothesized to play an important role in mental health; however, few studies have investigated the association between thiamine nutritional status and depression in the general population. Concentrations of free thiamine and its phosphate esters [thiamine monophosphate (TMP) and thiamine diphosphate (TDP)] in erythrocytes were measured by HPLC among 1587 Chinese men and women aged 50-70 y. The presence of depressive symptoms was defined as a Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale score of ≥16. The median erythrocyte concentration (nmol/L) was 3.73 for free thiamine, 3.74 for TMP, and 169 for TDP. The overall prevalence of depressive symptoms was 11.3%. Lower concentrations of all 3 erythrocyte thiamine biomarkers were monotonically associated with a higher prevalence of depressive symptoms: the multivariable adjusted ORs comparing the lowest with the highest quartiles were 2.97 (95% CI = 1.87, 4.72; P-trend < 0.001) for free thiamine, 3.46 (95% CI = 1.99, 6.02; P-trend < 0.001) for TMP, and 1.98 (95% CI = 1.22, 3.21; P-trend = 0.002) for TDP. In conclusion, poorer thiamine nutritional status and higher odds of depressive symptoms were associated among older Chinese adults. This finding should be further investigated in prospective or interventional studies.

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