Vegetarians more susceptible to depression than meat eaters, study shows. Here's why.

September 11, 2017 by Bryant-Jon Anteola, The Fresno Bee
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Vegetarians are at higher risk of suffering depression compared to those who eat meat and consume a conventional balanced diet, according to a new study.

A Bristol University study of almost 10,000 people from southwestern England discovered that were almost twice as likely to develop depression because of vitamin and mineral deficiencies that can negatively impact their mental health.

The 350 committed vegetarians who participated in the study had a higher average depression score when compared to the meat eaters, according to the study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Without meat, a vegetarian's diet tends to have less vitamin B12 consumption, as well as greater intake of nuts that contain , which have been linked with an increased risk of problems.

In addition, roughly 50 percent of vegans and 7 percent of vegetarians have a vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 can be found in red meat and plays an important role in affecting an individual's mood.

"Other potential factors include high blood levels of phytoestrogens (estrogen that's naturally in legumes) - consequent mainly on diets rich in vegetables and soya," the report stated. "Another potential contributing factor is that lower intakes of seafood are thought to be associated with greater risk of depressive symptoms."

The lack of a balanced diet can influence the development of depression.

Research findings also can be attributed partially to iron deficiencies, the study says.

Participants who had been consuming a vegetarian diet for longer periods of time had higher depression scores throughout.

The study, however, did not rule out the possibility that the vegetarians' decisions to adopt their diet could have been a symptom of depression from the get-go.

Explore further: Are vegetarian diets heart-healthier?

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RobertKarlStonjek
not rated yet Sep 12, 2017
Comment:
The elephant in the room is the question of how many of those vegetarians took to that diet because of pre-existing depression, especially of the early stages of that condition.

One of the symptoms of depression is lethargy and lack of energy, both of which are naturally attributed to dietary problems which leads many depressives to seek out dietary solutions to their condition including eliminating foods that may be the source of allergies, avoiding foods that may be considered unhealthy or changing to a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Taking control of one's circumstances contributes to positive feelings and positive wellbeing which in turn reinforces the decision to change diet (as they mentioned at the end).

A simple test of their hypothesis is to restore the vitamin levels and see if the depression abates.

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