A single copy of this article may be reprinted for personal, noncommercial use only.
Vitamin B-12 and depression: Are they related?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vitamin-b12-and-depression/AN01543
- With Mayo Clinic psychiatrist
Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D.read biographyclose window
Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D.Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D.
Dr. Daniel Hall-Flavin, board certified in general psychiatry and addiction psychiatry, is a St. Louis native looking to the Internet as a way to help people improve their health and be more active participants in their own health care by learning from Mayo Clinic's experts.
Dr. Hall-Flavin served on the faculties of Cornell University Medical College, New York Medical College and The George Washington University Medical School before joining the Mayo Clinic staff in 1996. He has special interests in adult psychiatry, addiction psychiatry, pharmacogenetics and personalized medicine. He served as medical director of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence from 1986 to 1999, and is currently involved in translational medicine research involving the introduction of pharmacogenetic technology into the daily practice of community psychiatry.
"With the advent of pharmacogenetics and related fields and the advances in translational medicine, informed collaborative relationships between knowledgeable, capable health professionals and informed, proactive individuals and their families are more vital than ever," he said.
"I'm optimistic that our Internet health education activities will contribute to ever-improving health outcomes for all who participate and apply what is learned."
- 'Clinical depression': What does that mean?
Risk factors (1)
- Junk food blues: Are depression and diet related?
- Vitamin B-12 and depression: Are they related?
- Caffeine and depression: Is there a link?
- Marijuana and depression: What's the link?
- see all in Causes
- Depression and anxiety: Can I have both?
- Tinnitus causes: Could my antidepressant be the culprit?
Treatments and drugs (9)
- Mild depression: Are antidepressants effective?
- After a flood, are food and medicine safe to use?
- Antidepressants: Can they stop working?
- see all in Treatments and drugs
Alternative medicine (4)
- Fish oil supplements: Can they treat depression?
- Natural remedies for depression: Are they effective?
- Do the benefits of vitamin C include improved mood?
- see all in Alternative medicine
Vitamin B-12 and depression: Are they related?
What's the relationship between vitamin B-12 and depression?
from Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D.
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.
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.
Taking a daily supplement that includes vitamin B-12 may help your body get the nutrients it needs, especially if you're older than 50 or you're a vegetarian. However, B-12 and other vitamin supplements can interact with some medications and cause other concerns, especially in high doses. Talk to your doctor before you take a vitamin supplement.
Keep in mind, the role of B vitamins in depression isn't clear. If you have a vitamin deficiency, taking a supplement may help. But no supplement can replace proven depression treatments such as antidepressants and psychological counseling.Next question
Caffeine and depression: Is there a link?
- Dietary supplement fact sheet: Vitamin B12. National Institutes of Health. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitaminB12.asp#h11. Accessed Dec 8, 2010.
- Clinical guidelines for the management of major depressive disorder in adults V. Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT). Toronto, Canada. http://www.canmat.org/guides.php. Accessed Dec. 8, 2010.
- Skarupski KA. Longitudinal association of vitamin B-6, folate, and vitamin B-12 with depressive symptoms among older adults over time. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2010;92:330.