Folate deficiency may occur with many popular medications and if you are prone to depression, you may want to avoid them.
What I’m about to tell you has been known for awhile now, but isn’t widely publicized. Those of you who have followed me for years know that I published a bestselling book called Drug Muggers, which is about all the ways taking various prescription medications can deplete your body of vital nutrients, causing unpleasant and/or dangerous side effects and even other medical conditions.
Today’s article is about a very important depletion because it has to do with a popular medication and an anti-cancer nutrient you need to avoid depression.
Carbamazepine is a popular anti-epilepsy drug which works by suppressing nerve impulses that trigger seizures. Other antiseizure medications are listed on the graphic below.
It’s quite effective for certain types of seizure disorders and sometimes used for diabetic neuropathy, bipolar disorder and TRIGEMINAL NEURALGIA, a facial pain syndrome. According to a 2016 study published in the journal Clinical Laboratory, the drug seems to significantly reduce levels of both vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin) as well as natural folate, also called Vitamin B9.
The Relationship Between Folate and Depression
1. Folate is needed for DNA
Folate (aka vitamin B9) plays a huge role in cell and tissue growth. You have trillions of cells and the crystalline DNA strands in each cell are highly susceptible to harm. Vitamin B9 encourages DNA synthesis and repair of “injured” strands. It is needed for red blood cells, and to make iron in the body.
So if you take a drug mugger of folate such as carbamazepine (and over 150 other medications) then you need to be aware of this depletion. But I’m not suggesting you take B9 supplements either, and I’ll explain why at the end of this article. Right now I want to make the case for what happens to you when you take a drug mugger of natural folate (B9).
2. Homocysteine May Rise
When vitamin B9 levels fall, especially in combination with a B12 deficiency, homocysteine rises and this is a known risk factor for heart attacks. Homocysteine can also act as a neurotoxin, causing brain fog. This is such an important topic, that I’ve dedicated another article to it: How Your Mental Health is Affected by Homocysteine, Serotonin and Interleukin-8.
3.Required for Mood Stability
Your body requires various B vitamins to convert compounds in your brain into happy neurotransmitters and sleep hormones. In particular, vitamin B9! It helps you make serotonin and dopamine. B9 deficiencies play a role in depression and tearfulness, premenstrual moodiness and suicidal ideation.
There’s even a drug version called Deplin on the market, but it’s a stronger version of the same natural folate you can eat or supplement with. According to the website for this medication, “If you have depression, your body may need more active folate. Low levels of active folate can impact mood. Not having enough active folate may also put you at risk of your depression coming back, even after it has gone away. DEPLIN® is prescribed by healthcare professionals and should only be used under the supervision of a physician.”
You may enjoy reading this related article regarding mood, Folate Predicts Your Personality and Brain Power
Folate vs. Folic Acid
By the way, in my opinion, natural folate is superior to the synthetic “folic acid”.
⚠️ Be very careful because supplementing with it will block the effect of your seizure medicine.
The mechanism of action of anti-seizure drugs requires suppression of folate (in some cases) so please don’t just go and supplement! Ask your doctor first and if permitted, use very low doses and separate from the medication.
In some cases, you will not want to supplement at all, however, it might be okay to increase your intake of foods like leafy greens, which are very high in natural folate. Again, please talk to your physician before making any changes in your supplementation or dietary regimen.
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.