Vitamin B12 status in patients of Turkish and Dutch descent with depression: a comparative cross-sectional study.Ann Gen Psychiatry 2009; 8:18AG
Studies have shown a clear relationship between depressive disorders and vitamin B12 deficiency. Gastroenteritis and Helicobacter pylori infections can cause vitamin B12 deficiency. Helicobacter pylori infections are not uncommon among people of Turkish descent in The Netherlands.
To examine the frequency of vitamin B12 deficiency in depressive patients of Turkish descent and compare it to the frequency of vitamin B12 deficiency in depressive patients of Dutch descent.
The present study is a comparative cross-sectional study of 47 patients of Turkish descent and 28 of Dutch descent. The depressive disorder diagnosis and differential diagnosis were made using the Structured Clinical Interview for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition text revision (SCID). The severity of the depressive symptoms was determined using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and the 21-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D-21). Serum baseline vitamin B6 and B12, folic acid and total serum homocysteine (tHcy) levels were measured.
The average ages of the patients of Turkish and Dutch descent were 40.57 and 44.75 years, respectively. There were no demonstrable differences between the serum vitamin B6, folic acid and tHcy levels in the two groups. The serum vitamin B12 levels were however clearly lower in the patients of Turkish descent than in those of Dutch descent. Vitamin B12 deficiency was however observed in 14 patients of Turkish descent and 1 of Dutch descent. This difference was significant. On the BDI, the patients of Turkish descent scored significantly higher than those of Dutch descent. Patients with vitamin B12 deficiency and those with hyperhomocysteinaemia had a significantly higher BDI score than patients with normal vitamin B12 and homocysteine levels. No relationship was observed with vitamin B12 and tHcy.
Vitamin B12 deficiency occurs more frequently in depressive patients of Turkish than of Dutch descent. This is why it is advisable to test the vitamin B12 serum level in depressive patients of Turkish descent.