Older Green Tea Drinkers Less Depressed

Life Extension Update Exclusive

October 20, 2009

Older green tea drinkers less depressed

Older green tea drinkers less depressed

In a report published online on October 14, 2009 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers from Tohoku University in Japan report that older people who frequently drink green tea have a significantly lower incidence of depressive symptoms.

The study included 1,058 men and women aged 70 and older who resided in Sendai, Japan. Depression was evaluated using Geriatric Depression Scale scores, and dietary questionnaire responses were analyzed for the type and frequency of tea consumption. Blood samples were analyzed for C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation.

Twenty-seven percent of the men and 29 percent of the women in the study were classified as experiencing mild and severe depressive symptoms, and 15 percent of the men and 24 percent of the women were categorized as having severe symptoms. The adjusted risk of mild and severe depression was 44 percent lower for those who reported drinking four or more cups green tea per day. For severe depression, determined by a high Geriatric Depression Scale score or antidepressant use, consuming four or more cups green tea per day was associated with a 52 percent lower adjusted risk.

The scientists originally hypothesized that tea’s protective effect against depression was due in part to its anti-inflammatory action, however, the study failed to find an association between green tea intake and C-reactive protein levels. The other mechanism they proposed, that of an anti-stress response due to tea’s theanine content, could explain the study’s findings. Theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, is able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier and may increase brain serotonin and dopamine, which could help improve mood and reaction to stress. “Thus, these data prove a useful hypothesis that higher consumption of green tea is related to a lower prevalence of depressive symptoms, possibly because it leads to a decrease in the stress response,” the authors write. “A further study is required to clarify whether green tea or theanine have a beneficial effect on the prevention and treatment of depressive symptoms.”

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Treatment for depression is usually multifaceted, and there is no doubt that nutrition plays an important role. Research has shown that the body chemistry of depressed people is altered in various ways and that deficiencies in neurotransmitters, hormonal imbalances, and other nutritional deficits can contribute to clinical depression. Also, many people with depression do not eat enough, overeat, or eat nonnutritious foods. New research has also connected depression to inflammation and oxidative stress, which are both appropriately managed with nutritional supplements.

The following dietary supplements have been shown to help restore neurotransmitter levels and alleviate depression:

  • B vitamins—A full complement of B vitamins (including at least 1000 micrograms (mcg) vitamin B12, 250 milligrams (mg) vitamin B6, and 800 mcg of folic acid daily
  • Zinc—15 to 30 mg daily
  • TMG—2 to 4 grams (g) daily
  • Cytidine diphosphate choline—250 to 500 mg daily (alternatively, 1 to 3 teaspoons liquid choline chloride mixed with 2 ounces juice daily, 1 tablespoon pure lecithin granules daily, or 250 mg glyceryl phosphoryl choline daily)
  • Micronized creatine—500 mg (in capsule form) four to eight times daily
  • N-acetylcysteine—600 mg (in capsule form) one to two times daily on an empty stomach
  • Vitamin C—1 to 3 g daily
  • Vitamin E—400 International Units (IU) daily, with 200 mg gamma tocopherol
  • EPA/DHA—1400 mg EPA and 1000 mg DHA daily
  • SAMe—400 to 1200 mg daily without food
  • St. John’s wort—300 to 900 mg daily
  • Ginkgo biloba—120 mg daily
  • L-phenylalanine—500 to 1000 mg early in the day
  • Tyrosine—500 to 1000 mg daily
  • Tryptophan—500 to 1000 mg once or twice daily on an empty stomach
  • DHEA—15 to 75 mg daily, followed by blood testing in three to six weeks to make sure optimal levels are maintained

In addition, hormone therapy may be necessary to balance levels of important hormones, including pregnenolone, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.

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