The researchers said studies have shown an association between depression and both antioxidant levels and oxidant stress, but generally have not included intakes of antioxidants and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. Their study examined the cross-sectional associations between clinically diagnosed depression and intakes of antioxidants, fruits, and vegetables in a cohort of older adults. Antioxidant, fruit, and vegetable intakes were assessed in 278 elderly participants aged 60+ (144 with depression, 134 without depression) using a Block 1998 food frequency questionnaire that was administered between 1999 and 2007.
Vitamin C, lutein, and beta cryptoxanthin intakes were “significantly lower” among individuals with depression. In addition, fruit and vegetable consumption, a primary determinant of antioxidant intake, was lower in individuals with depression. Antioxidants from dietary supplements were not associated with depression. Antioxidant, fruit, and vegetable intakes were lower in individuals with late-life depression than in comparison participants. These associations may partially explain the elevated risk of cardiovascular disease among older individuals with depression. In addition, the researchers concluded that their findings pointed to “the importance of antioxidant food sources rather than dietary supplements.”