Vitamin B12 for Depression

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December 17, 2003 | 48,370 views

Research shows that those who suffer from depression respond better to their treatment if they have high levels of vitamin B12 in their blood.

In a recent study, over 100 outpatients experiencing depression were closely observed over a six-month period. The patients were grouped by how well they responded to the treatment of their depression. Researchers also measured the level of vitamin B12 in the patients’ blood. The measurements were recorded on the first day they came in, and again at their six-month checkup. This allowed the researchers to keep track of whether the level of the vitamin influenced each patient’s outcome.

The study found that the patients who responded fully to the treatment had higher concentrations of vitamin B12 in their blood at both the beginning and end of treatment.

BioMedCentral PsychiatryDecember 1, 2003;3:17

Depression is one of the most devastating and common diseases on the planet. It exacts a toll far more significant in pain and suffering than just about any other disease. Each year depression will affect 10 percent of American adults. Right now, there are more than 25 million depressed people in the United States, a big jump from 17 million in 2002.

Nearly twice as many women (12 percent) as men (7 percent)are affected by a depressive illness each year. Major depression often begins between the ages 15 and 30 or even earlier.

The statistics I have mentioned above are under-estimates.This is because many cases of depression are unreported or misdiagnosed.

Treating depression with drugs has become quite common.They were first developed in the 1950s and now there are more than 30 different medications on the market. In 2002 they accounted for over $3 billion of annual prescription costs in the United States and are growing by approximately 25 percent each year. By now over 8 million people are using antidepressants.

I used to be one of those drug-prescribing doctors and in the late 80s I had put several thousand patients on these drugs. They seemed to work well for many, however in not one single case did they solve the underlying foundational reason as to why the person was depressed. Antidepressants work for less than 50 percent of the depressed population. Any type of pill is only a Band-Aid solution for the problem.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to use less toxic and less expensive alternatives that at least have a chance at treating the cause?

While that might make sense to you and me it surely isnot the choice that most drug companies would have you andyour doctor make for treating depression.

According to the study above, vitamin B12 may be crucial to help in the treatment of depression. One theory on the benefit of vitamin B12 is that it helps manufacture compounds called monoamines in the central nervous system, a shortage is believed to be linked to depression.

Also, the food you eat has a far more profound influence on your feelings than you think. This is particularly true for sugars and grain, which require insulin to metabolize them. Elevated insulin levels will lead to disrupted serotonin and other neurochemicals that will lead to depression. A major shift in dietary patterns, such as fat intake, can contribute to depression also.

Vitamin B12 is bound to the protein in the food we consume so vitamin-B12 deficiency is very common, almost universal,in strict vegetarians and vegans. Vitamin B12 is NOT readily available, if available at all, in plants. The information above shows just how much the body needs vitamin B12, and there are sources out there for vegetarians and vegans.

The common recommendation is to use injections, but I would suggest you obtain your B12 in a more absorbable form.

Optimizing the diet is clearly an important step for treating depression, and one of the most important tools will be to make sure you are getting enough omega-3 fats. I have had large numbers of patients spontaneously take themselves off their antidepressants once they started the fish oils.

By far, the best type of omega-3 fats is those found in fish oils. That's because the omega-3 in fish is high in two fatty acids crucial to human health, DHA and EPA. These two fatty acids are pivotal in preventing heart disease, cancer,and many other diseases. The human brain is also highly dependent on DHA - low DHA levels have been linked to depression, schizophrenia, memory loss, and a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's.

I recommend a high-quality krill oil.

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