Vitamin B12: A Remedy for Depression?
The adage “you are what you eat” may have some grounding in truth, if recent research into the link between vitamin B12 and depression is any indication.
Vitamin B12 is essential for proper functioning of the brain and regulation of mood. Without consuming proper amounts of vitamin B12, people are likely to experience a variety of neurological issues.
Sources of Vitamin B12
The good news is that people who eat a balanced diet that includes animal products are unlikely to suffer from vitamin B12 deficiencies. Good sources of B12 include tuna, chicken, cheese, eggs, and liver. The recommended daily intake for vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms a day, though pregnant women are encouraged to consume more to prevent neurological defects in the fetus.
However, people who either do not eat animal products or who cannot properly process nutrients have to find alternative sources of vitamin B12. Even with a sufficient diet, supplement can often times help improve the mental state of individuals since it is impossible to have too much B12.
Supplements of vitamin B12 come in a variety of forms. Pills are common, as are sublingual (under the tongue) patches. But B12 injectable supplements are increasing in popularity, as injections provide the highest absorption rate.
B12 shots are important for not only preventing depression; B12 injections for weight loss programs have also proven to be highly effective because B12 assists with optimal functioning of the metabolism. It is no small wonder that this vitamin plays related roles of improving body image and decreasing depression.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms
Preventing vitamin B12 deficiency is important because of the many roles that B12 plays in the body. Lack of vitamin B12 and depression are closely linked, as illustrated by numerous studies done on patients suffering from major depression.
Patients with higher levels of vitamin B12 are more successful at overcoming the symptoms of depression. Thus, consuming adequate amounts of B12 can both prevent depression and help those experiencing depression overcome the illness.
Another connection that vitamin B12 and depression have is the role that B12 plays in homocysteine management. Homocysteine is an amino acid that is found in the blood stream, and vitamin B12 is needed to break down and recycle homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine are directly linked to cardiovascular disease and stroke. Recent research suggests that excessive levels of homocysteine can also trigger depressive responses, meaning that consuming B12 to keep homocysteine levels in check is good for your heart and your mood.
Besides defeating depression, vitamin B12 is essential for brain functioning, blood cell creation, and metabolism maintenance. Even minor deficiencies of B12 can result in lethargy, lack of motivation, and a shortened attention span.
More serious deficiencies can affect body processes and result in conditions such as dementia, pernicious anemia, and circadian rhythm sleep disorders.
Roles of B-Complex Vitamins
Vitamin B12 is part of a larger complex of B vitamins, all of which have a role to play for physical and emotional well-being. Vitamin B12 is most closely related to depression, though a deficiency in any of the vitamins below can bring on a case of the blues.
- Vitamin B1 (also known as thiamine): Thiamine is crucial for brain functioning because it helps process glucose into a usable fuel for the brain. Deficiencies are uncommon, but a lack of thiamine can lead to a variety of psychiatric symptoms, including depression.
- Vitamin B3 (also known as niacin): Many commercial food products are now fortified with niacin, meaning that deficiencies are rare. Pellagra is a condition that results from severe lack of niacin, though even subclinical deficiencies can lead to mental slowness, anxiety, and persistent agitation.
- Vitamin B5 (also known as pantothenic acid): Like vitamin B12, vitamin B5 is closely related to depression.
- Vitamin B6 (also known as pyridoxine): Pyridoxine is crucial for processing amino acids and for producing hormones such as serotonin, dopamine, and melatonin. Without enough vitamin B6, people are likely to develop skin lesions, mental confusion, and compromised immunity. Many nutritionists believe that most people do not get enough of this vitamin.
- Vitamin B9 (also known as folic acid): Folic acid is necessary for synthesis of DNA. Like vitamin B6, deficiencies are not uncommon and can be exacerbated by drug use, alcoholism, illness, and pregnancy.
- Vitamin B12 (also known as cobalamin): Vitamin B12 plays a variety of roles, including red blood cell formation, hormone processing, and nervous system maintenance. Low levels of vitamin B12 are common among the elderly, pregnant women, and people who consume few or no animal products.
Vitamin B12 and depression are clearly linked, though other vitamins in the B complex have important roles to play as well. Having a healthy, balanced diet with adequate vitamin intake is the foundation for physical and mental health.
Check out the selection of vitamin B12 injections available in our online store. Whether your mental state is merely a case of the blues or has advanced to crippling depression, vitamin B12 injections can help.