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27.10.2017


Depressed due to a vegetarian diet? On the contrary...

A few days ago we wrote about a recent study by Joseph Hibbeln, which showed that English vegetarians were more likely to be depressed than omnivores - possibly due to a shortage of vitamin B12. Today we look further into the relationship between vegetarianism and depression.

Study
In 2010 nutritionists at Arizona State University published the results of a study in which vegetarians were less likely to be depressed than meat eaters. The researchers compared the diet of 60 vegetarian Seventh Day Adventists with that of 78 omnivorous Adventists. They also used the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale questionnaire to determine how much the participants were suffering from depression, anxiety and stress.

Results
The vegetarians had lower scores all round (and therefore did better) than the omnivores.


Depressed due to a vegetarian diet? On the contrary...


Explanation
The researchers believe that it is largely the amount of omega-3-fatty acids in the diet that determines whether someone becomes depressed or not. The vegetarian participants did have very low amounts of DHA and EPA in their diet, but they had higher amounts of ALA.


Depressed due to a vegetarian diet? On the contrary...


The vegetarian diet also provided lower amounts of omega-6-fatty acids and more monounsaturated fatty acids than the omnivorous diet. That might also reduce the likelihood of depression.

Another factor was exercise. The vegetarian participants exercised more, and more intensively, than the meat eaters. Exercise has an anti depressant effect. The more intensively you exercise, the better.


Depressed due to a vegetarian diet? On the contrary...

Depressed due to a vegetarian diet? On the contrary...


Conclusion
A vegetarian diet doesn't have to automatically lead to depression. What's more: the mental health of the vegetarians in this study was better than that of the omnivores.

An important factor in this study is that the participants belonged to a Christian sect with a strict and extremely healthy way of living. Adventists regard their body as a temple and try to live as healthily as possible.

Moreover, Adventists are often highly educated too. If Adventists cut meat out of their diet, they are likely to make sure they don't develop a shortage of nutrients such as vitamin B12.

Source:
Nutr J. 2010 Jun 1;9:26.

More:
Vitamin B12 shortage may make vegetarians depressed 26.10.2017
Vegetarian top athlete gets rhabdomyolysis 25.09.2009
Vegetarianism is healthy, but not because of lack of animal protein 27.03.2009

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