European researchers have reported a trial that showed vitamin A supplements boosted mood in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD).
The researchers used a computer-based test to assess participants’ mood and to measure how well they performed on a computerized task involving imagining an unfamiliar scene, such as a hospital room.
Participants in the study received vitamin A injections every three weeks for 12 weeks.
The researchers found that mood improved after receiving vitamin A, which they said was related to how well participants performed on the computer task.
Mood was also improved by taking vitamin A-enriched food, and the researchers said that vitamin A could have benefits for depression as well.
“Vitamin A supplements can provide the benefits associated with mood enhancement and improved performance,” the researchers wrote in their study.
The study was published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.
Researchers said the study has important implications for mental health, as many people with depression may be taking supplements without knowing it.
“In this study, we found that vitamin supplements enhance mood in people with MDD,” study co-author Dr. Michael G. Roesler, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, told Reuters Health.
“Our findings suggest that vitamin supplementation may help people with the disorder feel better, which in turn may help them to get better treatment.”
The study found that the participants who took vitamin A had significantly higher scores on the tests for mental state, well-being and general functioning.
The study also found that overall, participants who received vitamin B12 supplements had significantly lower levels of depression and anxiety, but no significant difference in depression or anxiety.
Participees who received a placebo received vitamin supplements for 12 months and the study found the placebo reduced depression and other symptoms of depression by 37 percent.
The findings suggest the vitamin supplements could help people suffering from depression who have had significant loss of function in the brain or are struggling with anxiety and other mental disorders.
“The results from this study are important for the future of vitamin supplementation,” said Dr. Jennifer L. Goll, the lead investigator for the study and a professor at the university’s Department of Psychiatry.
“We can see that these [supplements] have a significant effect on the brain, and it’s a possible new treatment avenue for depression,” she said.