Micronutrients are needed for sustaining the normal activities of the brain chemicals. Deficiency of certain vitamins might impair secretion of chemicals that regulate mood, resulting in depression.
Treating Depression With Vitamins
Vitamin B Complex
Although the dietary sources of B vitamins are abundant in nature, a diet rich in sugar and refined carbohydrates, excess caffeine intake, heavy drinking and smoking might reduce absorption of these essential vitamins. Studies suggest the deficiency of certain B vitamins might cause depression. According to a Harvard Medical School study, regardless of age patients with major depression are deficient in vitamins B2, B6 and B12. Vitamin B complex supplements might help to enhance the effectiveness of antidepressant treatments with tricyclic drugs. Daily intake of vitamin B complex supplements could reduce the risk of major depression after stroke.
A study in Japan has revealed the effectiveness of vitamin B2 or riboflavin in reducing the symptoms of postpartum depression that occurs in some women following childbirth. Women with a personal and family history of emotional disorders, personal and relationship problems have a higher risk of developing postpartum depression after delivery. Increasing consumption of riboflavin during pregnancy and especially in the third trimester of pregnancy might reduce the risk of developing postpartum depression.
Vitamin B6 plays an important role in conversion of the amino acid tryptophan into the neurotransmitter serotonin. Low serotonin level causes depression. Studies suggest that low plasma concentration of vitamin B6 increases the risk of depression. For every 10mg increase in vitamin B6 intake, the risk of developing symptoms of depression falls by 2%. Vitamin B6 deficiency might be prevented by consuming 100mg of the vitamin per day.
Folate (vitamin B9)
In a Finnish study, researchers found that low folate intake, less than 256mg per day, is associated with three-fold higher risk of developing depression. Folate is an important micronutrient associated with synthesis of brain chemicals that control mood.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is more common among older adults. Studies suggest that almost 6% older adults suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency, and in about one-fifth of the elderly population, vitamin B12 level is marginally below the normal level. Along with folate and vitamin B6, vitamin B12 is associated with production of compounds critical for synthesis of neurotransmitters. This B vitamin might cause cognitive impairment and depression in elderly people. The homocysteine hypothesis suggests that elevated homocysteine level might trigger depression. Adequate intake of the B vitamin could lower the homocysteine level and reduce the risk of depression.
Vitamin C or ascorbic acid might help to reduce depression. A healthy brain contains large amounts of ascorbic acid. Experimental studies suggest that ascorbic acid might possess antidepressant property.
Recent studies suggest an association between low vitamin D levels and higher risk of developing depression. Presence of vitamin D receptors in key areas of the brain suggests a possible effect of vitamin D deficiency on mood. In an Intermountain Medical Center, Murray, USA, study, researchers found that cardiovascular patients with normal serum vitamin D level are less likely to develop depression.
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