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Posts Tagged ‘vitamin B12 and depression’

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Depression in Older Adults

Monday, August 26th, 2013



Feeling blue? For many older adults, vitamin B12 deficiency and low vitamin B6 can cause depression, leaving you feeling down in the dumps. Before you rush off to the doctor for a new pill to ease your depression, CHECK YOUR DIET!! Here’s the scoop on B vitamins and depression in senior citizens.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Depression in Older Adults

Vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 are both essential nutrients for neurological health and emotional balance. As you age, your ability to digest vitamin B12 from food naturally diminishes, leading to increased risk for vitamin B12 deficiency and also low vitamin B6.

Can Vitamin B12 help depression in seniors?

Study focuses on depression in older adults

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recently featured a study in which it was discovered that higher intakes of vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 were associated with a lower likelihood of depression in older adults.  Both vitamins B12 and B6 play critical roles in the production of neurotransmitters, or “chemical messengers” in the brain, including Serotonin, which is the brain’s “feel good” neurotransmitter.

Thus it makes sense that a deficiency of vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 may be a cause or symptom of depression.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Menopause Symptoms

Vitamin B12 feels good!

The subjects of the study were adults aged 65 years or older from the Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP). Their diets were evaluated for consumption of vitamins B12 and B6 over a period of seven years.  The incidence of depression was also noted. It appeared that for every 10 mg increase in vitamin B12, patients reported a 2% increase in overall good mood. The same effect on depression was also noted with each 10 mg increase of Vitamin B6.

Foods rich in B vitamins

Foods rich in vitamin B6 include bran (rice and wheat), bananas, avocados, chicken or turkey breast, raw garlic, dried herbs and spices,  fish (such as tuna, salmon, and cod), liver, whole grains, beans, peanuts, pistachios, and walnuts, sunflower seeds and sesame seed (and techina).  Foods rich in vitamin B12 include fish, meat, liver, poultry, eggs and dairy.  Today many breakfast cereals are now fortified with vitamin B12 also.

Older adults at risk for B12 deficiency

Older adults tend to exhibit a higher incidence of both depression and vitamin B12 deficiency.   However, it has been noted that some adults, despite eating foods high in B-vitamins, continue to suffer a vitamin B12 deficiency. This may be related to limited stomach acidity in older people, which can prevent vitamin B12 from food from being absorbed into the body.  In other cases, the lack of intrinsic factor as we age, which impairs our ability to absorb vitamin B12 from food and supplements, may be the cause of this inability to absorb Vitamin B12.

Treat vitamin B12 deficiency now!

When evaluating symptoms of depression in older adults, diagnosticians should evaluate their overall diets in order to rule out any vitamin deficiencies. Individuals aged 50 or older, especially vegetarians, will likely benefit from supplementing their diets extra vitamin B12, as well as eating fortified breakfast cereals or sprinkling nutritional yeast onto meals and snacks.

In this way older adults can simultaneously reduce the risk of depression and vitamin B12 deficiency.

Your turn!

Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.

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Like this? Read more:

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Image courtesy of photostock/freedigitalphotos

Why does Vitamin B12 Deficiency cause Depression and Anxiety?

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders are some of the most pernicious symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency. Most people who suffer the effects of low B12 don’t even know it- not until they start noticing unusual signs like extreme fatigue, memory loss, depression, and dizziness; symptoms that otherwise healthy individuals wouldn’t link to a mere vitamin deficiency, such as vitamin B12 anemia.

Why does Vitamin B12 Deficiency cause Depression and Anxiety? B12 Patch

Vitamin B12 and the brain

Vitamin B12 is one of the most important nutrients for the brain- it helps to maintain healthy red blood cells, which is needed for delivering oxygen to the brain and other parts of the body.

Vitamin B12 also helps to sustain myelin, a fatty substance that coats your nerve cells, increasing intercellular communication and protecting your nervous system from harm.

Thus, depleted levels of vitamin B12 puts your nervous system at risk for damage, as well as impairing your nerve cells’ ability to act efficiently and convey messages quickly to the brain.

Vitamin B12 deficiency also results in oxygen depletion (hypoxia), which causes symptoms such as fatigue, disorientation, and memory loss.

This may explain why many oft-cited scientific studies, doctors have noted a direct correlation between healthy vitamin B12 levels and reduced risk for depression, anxiety attacks, and other mood disorders.

When Vitamin B12 Deficiency has you under its Spell…of Depression

In vegan-oriented societies, such as India, where B12-rich foods such as beef and seafood are shunned, depression and anxiety are epidemic.

Mental illness symptoms

Scientists have noted a variety of mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, which often occur as a result of vitamin B12 deficiency, or may be exacerbated by plummeting levels of vitamin B12.

If you suffer from any of these symptoms, it’s important to have your vitamin B12 levels checked right away, in order to avoid misdiagnosis or prolonged symptoms caused by underlying vitamin B12 deficiency.

Mental illness symptoms linked with vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  • Chronic depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Memory loss
  • Delusions
  • Irritability
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Brain fog
  • Inability to focus mentally
  • Altered sense of taste and smell

In addition to mood disorders, other signs of vitamin B12 may include painful numbness and tingling in the extremities, muscle spasms, learning disorders, difficulty walking, poor motor skills, and difficulty conceiving pregnancy.

Your turn!

Have you noticed any of the early signs of vitamin B12 deficiency, such as extreme fatigue, brain fog, or memory loss?

If so, have you tested for vitamin B12 deficiency?

Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.

Share with your friends!

If you found this article helpful, then please share with your friends, family, and coworkers by email, Facebook, or Google+.

Like this? Read more:

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Folate & B12 Deficiency Linked To Some Depression Subtypes

Treatment of depression: time to consider folic acid and vitamin B12.
Image(s) courtesy of Ambro/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Eating Your Way Out of Depression with B-12

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

We’ve all heard of overeaters binging themselves into a state of depression- a vicious circle which is difficult to get out of. But eating for happiness?

Vitamin B-12 deficiency is linked with depression

Vitamin B12 is essential for many aspects of brain development, such as myelination (the production of a protective layer around the brain) and the distributing of neurotransmitters to and from the brain. So it comes as no surprise that the Mayo Clinic suggests eating foods rich in vitamin B-12 as a means of preventing the onset of clinical depression.

“Eat to live, don’t live to eat.”

That’s a great motto if you happen to be an android. The fact is, eating is a sensual experience which we were meant to enjoy. (Why else would we have taste buds?) The key to good nutrition is finding foods you love that will love you right back.

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Here are some yummy appetizers and entrées which are naturally high in vitamin B-12:

  • Fish tacos- Made popular by Rubio’s, the fish tacos is a tasty fusion of Cal-Mex and seafood cuisine.  Take a soft flour tortilla, add some fiery mango salsa, a dab of sour cream and a grilled fish fillet (hint: salmon is high in B-12).  It’s a wrap!
  • Are you a Sushi lover? Then you’re going to love this- sushi and sashimi recipes typically include such high-in-B12 ingredients as roe (fish eggs), octopus, crab, shrimp, and mackerel. Pass the soy sauce!
  • New England clam chowder- just the name elicits images of salty sea breezes, sailboats and clam bakes. Don’t have any recipes handy? Here is a list of variations on this classic soup recipe.
  • Lean cuts of lamb are high in vitamin B-12 and a popular staple of many Middle Eastern cuisines. Here is a flavorful Lamb Moussaka recipe, as featured in epicurious.
  • Tuna casserole is one of America’s fave comfort foods and it’s simple to make- combine canned tuna, cooked broad noodles, and a can of concentrated mushroom soup. Top it with some fried onions and pop it in the oven for 30 minutes. Tuna is high in B-12 and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Hamburgers barbecued with low-fat ground beef chuck are a great source of vitamin B-12. Serve it up on whole-grain buns with a side of oven roasted root veggies for a healthy upgrade from the typical artery-clogging burgers ‘n fries.




The Vitamin B12 and Depression Link

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

The medical literature has demonstrated a strong correlation between vitamin B12 and depression. Vitamin B12 is naturally found if fish, meat, eggs and chicken. However, some people choose to avoid these foods, and there are those who don’t absorb it from the foods they do eat.

Vitamin B12 affects our nervous system. It is necessary for the breakdown of a toxin in the body, known as homocysteine. Vitamin B12 is also a requisite for the formation of DNA and phospholipids. Phospholipids are fatty acids that make up the membrane surrounding every nerve cell. It becomes quite apparent that a vitamin B12 deficiency can have numerous consequences on the body.

Low vitamin B12 levels in the body can alter the functioning of the brain cells. The nerve cells of the brain affects how we think and feel. A B12 deficiency can lead to depression, dementia, violent behavior, paranoia, schizophrenia-like symptoms and fatigue. Although the presence of low stores of B12 doesn’t cause all cases of mental illness, there is evidence that this condition causes mental illness in some people.

A study done at the National Institute of Aging evaluated a group of physically disabled women over age 65. This study found that women with low blood B12 plasma levels were twice as likely to suffer from depression as their counterparts with normal levels. The research was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, May 2000 issue.

In a second study, Dutch researchers examined 4,000 people for symptoms of depression. Blood tests of all of these patients were taken and charted. They found that those who presented with high homocysteine levels (indicative of a B12 deficiency) had a stronger incidence of depression than those with normal levels. This study was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, 2002.

In summary, someone who is suffering from depression or other mental illness should be evaluated for a B12 deficiency.

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