There are many nutrients that can affect mood, but B vitamins have a particularly positive influence. A number of B vitamins have been associated with homocysteine regulation in depression treatment.
Homocysteine is an amino acid in the blood. High homocysteine levels can cause neurological damage,89 and are linked to an increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases and depression. Scientists have learned that depressed people tend to have significantly higher levels of homocysteine than the general population.
High homocysteine levels can cause cerebral vascular disease and neurotransmitter deficiency, which in turn causes depression of mood. Experts have suggested measuring levels of homocysteine, folic acid, and B6 and B12 vitamins in the clinical evaluation of depressed patients, and that corrections of deficiencies can attenuate depressive symptoms in depression treatment.
Vitamin B-12 and other B vitamins play a role in producing brain chemicals that affect mood and other brain functions. Low levels of B-12 and other B vitamins such as vitamin B-6 and folate may be linked to depression.
Low levels of a vitamin can result from eating a poor diet or not being able to absorb the vitamins you do consume. Older adults, vegetarians and people with digestive disorders such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease may have trouble getting enough B-12. Sometimes a vitamin B-12 deficiency occurs for unknown reasons. Your doctor may order a blood test to check levels of B-12 or other vitamins if a deficiency is suspected.
B-12 Deficiency and Depression
The best way to make sure you’re getting enough B-12 and other vitamins is to eat a healthy diet that includes sources of essential nutrients. Vitamin B-12 is plentiful in animal products such as fish, meat, poultry, eggs and milk. Fortified breakfast cereals also are a good source of B-12 and other B vitamins.
Once of the best ways to get a good range of B vitamins is to take a B complex twice a day with your other multi-vitamins. Of course, it is always better to get your nutrients from whole foods whenever possible.