Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Vitamins and Depression

The current buzz in depression treatment involves L-5 methylfolate. Studies indicate that around 70% of depressed patients have low levels of the enzyme needed to convert folic acid to the active L-5 methylfolate. In the body, L-5 methylfolate is responsible for reducing homocysteine levels and increasing levels of neurotransmitters. Prescription antidepressants work by blocking the uptake of neurotransmitters, but not actually increasing the amount in the body. L-5 methylfolate actually increases the amount of neurotransmitters (like serotonin) that your body makes.

Scanning the literature, it is easy to find information on L-5 methylfolate for treatment for everything from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia to heart disease, including help with short term memory, concentration, sleep, motor control, motivation, mood stability and even hormone levels. I recommend only taking L-5 methylfolate under the care of a physician and this is why: there are medications (like the commonly used pain reliever tramadol) that interact with increased levels of serotonin and can cause serious side effects. Some antidepressants can have serious side effects when used with L-5 methylfolate. With all this being said, I do think that it is an important vitamin to have available, and I would consider this first for mild depression because of the low side effect profile. Any time that we can use the body’s natural resources to overcome disease states, we are moving in the right direction. Your doctor can determine if antidepressants need to be used along with this for optimal results.

On the web, there are several forms of methylfolate for sale. Be aware that not all L-5 methylfolate is the same. Only the LEVO isomer of L-5 methylfolate is effective, and currently, it is expensive. There are two prescription forms available, and at John Hollis Pharmacy, we do compound L-5 methylfolate with other B vitamins for absorption and efficacy. The less expensive forms on the web are the "R" form or D-5-methylfolate. These are NOT effective and should be avoided. If you have a question, ask your pharmacist or physician. Under a physician’s care, doses of 5 to 15 mg of L-5 methylfolate are used. I would allow 90 days of treatment before evaluating effectiveness. Using the natural process of the body is a slower but healthier option. So the bottom line is that L-5 methylfolate (the real kind) is an attractive option for treatment of mild cognitive function issues (including depression) but only under the care of a physician.

Healthy living with John Hollis Pharmacy!

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