“Low levels of folate have been linked with depression and anxiety,” Naidoo says. This is because folate helps make the neurotransmitters, like serotonin and dopamine, which are responsible for mood stabilization and pleasure, respectively.
It’s also because folate is involved in the methylation cycle, a biochemical process that’s used by every cell in the body for many important functions, like helping to create neurotransmitters, regulate DNA, and produce energy.
The process occurs on its own, and while the first half might go smoothly, the last portion can go awry without the proper nutrients (i.e., B-12 and folate).
This can lead to the buildup of homocysteine, which researchers suggest could lead to depression. In fact, optimized methylation pathways are related to better neurological health. Simply adding folic acid to the diet (to ensure you’re meeting your daily needs of this water-soluble vitamin) will help support a balanced methylation cycle and may also help manage depressive feelings.