Happy Little Vegemites?

After my post on folate and migraines I wondered about the folate content of vegemite. After all it’s made from brewer’s yeast, which is a very rich source of folate. Indeed5 grams has 50% of the RDI. Of course, 5 grams of vegemite is a lot, given how strong it’s taste is, and if you’re in the relevant category it seems you might need more than the RDI to keep you well. Nevertheless, it’s obviously one source to include in the diet.

I thought of this today when I did another story in which folate came up. ANU researchers tried three different interventions to reduce depressive symptoms in groups of people between the ages of 60. One of the groups was given folate and B12 supplements.

The study did not find any significant benefit in mood from the supplements, and is in keeping with at least one other randomized trial. Nevertheless, there are apparently some clinicians who say that folate appears to reduce depression amongst elderly patients. Moreover, the study did find the supplements improved cognition and memory.

Another intervention, encouraging people to be more physically active, showed no benefits, not because physical activity doesn’t work, but because those in that group didn’t sustain extra activity. The good news is that the third group, who were given information about depression symptoms, causes and options for support, showed significantly fewer depressive symptoms than the control group (or the other two), although the researcher says the improvements were small.

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About Stephen Luntz

I am a science journalist, specialising in Australian and New Zealand research across all fields of science. My book, Forensics, Fossils and Fruitbats: A Field Guide to Australian Scientists is out now through CSIRO Publishing. I am also a professional returning officer for non-government organisations. I'm very politically active, but generally try to restrict this blog to scientific matters.
This entry was posted in Australasian Science, medical science, nutrition. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Happy Little Vegemites?

  1. Unfortunately Vegemite contains a really high level of free glutamate (glutamates?) which is a fairly common migraine trigger for those whose migraines are triggered by foods – sometimes it really feels like you can’t win! I can tolerate a bit of Vegemite now but I couldn’t before and I still have to be careful not to have it on a day when I eat other foods which can be migraine triggers for me.

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