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Short-term food restriction, iron metabolism and depression (2014-11-03)

The idea that iron deficiency anemia can be recognized in depressive patients has been around for a few years, as well as negative association between ferritin levels and depression. Iron deficiency anemia, associated with low iron intake, has been observed in women using restriction diets, for example in vegetarians or anorexics.



There are no data on the influence of the short-term food restrictions, observed for example in slimming women, on iron management and its connection with behavior expressed via changes in the subject’s emotional state.

A new study describes the effect of one - and two - day food restrictions (every 8 days for a period of 48 days) on selected iron management parameters in the serum and blood of 46 healthy volunteer women (23 in each group), aged 25.5 ± 3.0 years, in association with the subjects’ self-described emotional status and depression symptoms.
The association between iron parameters and depression was also analyzed.

Results show that short-term (2 days) fasting significantly decreases iron concentrations in serum and hair, as well as levels of ferritin, hemoglobin, hematocrit, red blood cells, and total iron binding capacity, but the short-term fasting did not influence the other iron management parameters.
Each model of food restrictions also increased negative feelings towards depression.
A significant negative correlation between serum ferritin levels and depression was found in women who starved for 2 days.

Many authors have recently focused on the influence of iron deficiency anemia on depression. Steward and Hirani examined almost 2,000 participants over 65 years. They concluded that lower than normal levels of hemoglobin, ferritin, and transferrin were associated with depressive symptoms.

Similar results were observed in patients with maternal iron deficiency anemia which can affect postpartum emotions and cognition as well as postpartum depression.

The association between depression and iron management parameters has also been investigated by authors, studying the different populations such as female medical students and adults employees, as well as in animal studies. Many of these authors have observed similar results to those presented in this paper regarding the association of ferritin concentrations and depression.

The association between iron deficiency anemia and depression has been widely discussed; however, the influence of short-term starvation on the alteration of iron management is still not fully recognized. On the other hand, the observations of behavior and mood changes in people who use short-term food restriction for different purposes are in no doubt.

Does fasting negatively influence on quality of life, and in particular, the emotional status of women? Based on the results obtained in this study, the answer to the second question is yes. Free-will starvation decreases the quality of life rather than increases, opposite to the popular opinion presented by some people using restricted diets.

See also
Psychological Changes following Weight Loss

New research links metabolic hormone to depression

Misled by Macronutrients? UC Researchers Suggest Alternative Diet Design

Minerals: what they do and where to find them

For more information
Effect of short-term food restriction on iron metabolism, relative well-being and depression symptoms in healthy women