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04.01.2022


How dietary flavonoids and carotenoids protect against depression

A diet high in flavonoids such as cyanidin or luteolin and carotenoids such as lycopene and zeaxanthin protects against depression, epidemiological data suggests. This may be because flavonoids and carotenoids increase the activity of neurotransmitters and the cerebral growth factor BDNF in the brain.


How dietary flavonoids and carotenoids protect against depression


Epidemiology
South Korean researchers at Gachon University surveyed 2,201 women aged 45-69 years using standardized questionnaires. Based on the answers, they calculated the intake of various phenols and carotenoids, and determined whether - and if so, to what extent - the women suffered from depression.

Most of the phytochemicals the researchers asked about were not significantly associated with depression, but there were exceptions. The strongest protective factor the South Koreans found was luteolin, a flavonoid in parsley.


How dietary flavonoids and carotenoids protect against depression


How dietary flavonoids and carotenoids protect against depression


How dietary flavonoids and carotenoids protect against depression


Also cyanidin and pelargonidin, two anthocyanins in blueberries and other fruits, protected against depression - as did (+)-catechin, a catechin in green tea.


How dietary flavonoids and carotenoids protect against depression


How dietary flavonoids and carotenoids protect against depression


Of the carotenoids the Koreans looked at, lycopene and zeaxanthin were found to protect against depression. Lycopene is present in tomatoes, zeaxanthin in leafy vegetables.

In silico research
The Koreans suspected that the flavonoids and carotenoids they identified inhibit the enzymes MAO-A and MAO-B. MAO-A and MAO-B are enzymes that deactivate neurotransmitters.

Using computer model simulations, the Koreans were able to demonstrate that a large number of phytochemicals could attach themselves to MAO-A and MAO-B in such a way that they could no longer convert neurotransmitters.


How dietary flavonoids and carotenoids protect against depression


How dietary flavonoids and carotenoids protect against depression


Using computer simulations, the Koreans found yet another potential mechanism of action. There were phytochemicals that could attach to BDNF in silico.

BDNF is a hormone that makes brain cells make new connections. More activity of BDNF means a lower risk of depression.

The researchers suspect that the interaction between substances such as lycopene and BDNF makes the receptor TrkB more sensitive. This might allow the BDNF hormone to work better. The figure at the top of this page explains how this should work.


How dietary flavonoids and carotenoids protect against depression


Conclusion
"The current study is meaningful in that it is the first to analyze the association between the intake of flavonoids and carotenoids and depressive symptoms using epidemiologic data and investigate the mechanism using an in silico analysis", write the Koreans.

"These results suggest that dietary flavonoids and carotenoids can be utilized in the treatment of depressive symptoms."

Source:
Antioxidants 2022, 11(1), 53.

More:
Fruits and vegetables are natural antidepressants 28.04.2020
Healthy diet protects against depression 05.03.2019
Trial: magnesium effective antidepressant 18.11.2017

Archives:
Carotenoids
Depression


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