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The current study evaluated a subset of 11,216 men who had completed a depression assessment near the end of the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT), which recruited 12,866 men who were free of coronary heart disease but had increased risk factors, and followed them for 18 years.
The research team found that men who reported more depressive symptoms experienced a significantly higher risk of all-cause mortality and stroke mortality, but not coronary heart disease mortality. Men whose number and frequency of depressive symptoms were ranked in the top one-fifth of participants experienced the strongest risks compared to those in the lowest one-fifth. The risk of dying of stroke was twice that for those whose depressive symptoms were in the top fifth of participants compared to the lowest fifth.
The authors note that the effect of depression on stroke mortality as determined by this study is greater than smoking or cholesterol. They write that the findings provide more evidence for a causal link between depression and death from stroke, and suggest that a reduction in depressive symptoms in people whose risk for coronary heart disease is above average could result in a corresponding decrease in future stroke mortality.
It's startling to learn that there are 15 trillion neurons (nerve cells) in the human brain. There are far more glial cells (neuroglia) that fill the spaces between the neurons, Schwann cells, and miles of blood vessels to nourish the three or so pounds of brain tissue in the average head.
Three pounds isn't much: only 2% of the body weight of a person weighing 150 pounds. Brain cells are hungry cells, demanding nourishment from as much as 30% of circulating blood. We used to think that the brain could somehow protect itself from nutrient deficiencies, but today we know that the brain requires specific nutrients. If the brain doesn't get them, its biochemistry changes, resulting in fatigue, depression, irritability, and other symptoms.
For example, the brain needs a good supply of B vitamins to act as coenzymes (catalysts) for many functions, including converting nutrients from food to fuel that our bodies can use. Glucose is the brain's primary fuel. If glucose levels fall, we may feel depressed, tired, or unable to think clearly.
B vitamins also are needed to help the brain make neurotransmitters, the "messengers" that enable brain cells to communicate with each other. Vitamin B6 is needed to manufacture serotonin, a neurotransmitter that produces feelings of well-being. Without proper supplies of vitamin B12, the brain could not make acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter involved in learning and memory. The B vitamin known as folate (folic acid) is needed to make an important group of mood-regulating chemicals called catecholamines, including dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine (Bukreev 1978; Carney et al. 1990; Carney 1995; Fujii et al. 1996; Masuda et al. 1998; Bottiglieri et al. 2000; Zhao et al. 2001).
In many cases, depressed people with blood levels indicating that they lacked key nutrients respond quite well to supplements. Unfortunately, most physicians do not prescribe natural supplements to treat depression (Carney et al. 1990; Carney 1995).
In young, healthy people SAMe is well distributed throughout the body as a result of its synthesis from methionine by enzymes using ATP. However, in sickness and in age, system levels may become depleted. Supplementation of the co-factors folate, TMG, vitamins B6 and B12, together with SAMe appears to be an effective method to overcome this deficiency. There is evidence that SAMe may help to synthesize phosphatidylcholine, which keeps cell membranes fluid and is used in the brain to make the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
An agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services conducted a meticulous evaluation of SAMe in year 2002. Their findings show the efficacy of SAMe in helping maintain stable mood and joint function, without any side effects. Since aging people often suffer joint discomfort and immobilization, SAMe addresses multiple problems people face as they grow older.
SAMe (S-adenosyl-methionine) has multi-modal mechanisms of action that are used throughout the body, and especially the liver. In order to perform its detoxification role, the liver performs thousands of complex enzymatic reactions every second.
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