The Vitamin B12 and Depression Link

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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.