Effect of folic acid supplementation on mood and serotonin response in healthy males

E Williams, Barbara J. Stewart-Knox, I Bradbury, I Rowland, Kristina Pentieva, A Helander, H McNulty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Evidence suggests that low folate status may be detrimental to mood and associated with depleted cerebrospinal fluid levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT). A placebo-controlled trial was carried out to determine the effect of folic acid supplementation (100 mu g for 6 weeks followed by 200 mu g for a further 6 weeks) upon subjective mood (Positive and Negative Affect Schedule) and biochemical markers of mood (5-HT) in healthy males (n 23). Blood samples were obtained at baseline (week 0) and during the intervention at week 6 and week 12. Subjective mood assessments were obtained at week 0 and week 12. The results showed an increase in serum and erythrocyte folate concentrations (P=0.02 and P=0.003, respectively) and a corresponding decrease in plasma homocysteine (P=0.015) in response to the folic acid intervention. Neither subjective mood nor 5-HT levels, however, were significantly altered in response to the change in folate status. Folic acid given at physiological doses did not appear to improve the mood of healthy folate-replete individuals over a 12-week period. Further research is needed to address the effect of folic acid supplementation or of longer duration or increased dose, particularly in the face of sub-optimal folate status.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)602-608
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Oct 2005


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