Normally I write my own articles in the Featured Article
section. Due to lack of space and so much good
information, I am including this article from About.com.
Did you ever wish that you could take a
vitamin for depression? Well, for some of you it may be
just that simple. There are a variety of vitamin
deficiencies that can lead to depression symptoms.
The B-Complex Vitamins
The B-complex vitamins are essential to mental
and emotional well-being. They cannot be stored in
our bodies, so we depend entirely on our daily diet to
supply them. B vitamins are destroyed by alcohol,
refined sugars, nicotine, and caffeine so it is no
surprise that many people may be deficient in these.
Here's a rundown of recent finding about the
relationship of B-complex vitamins to depression:
Vitamin B1 (thiamine): The brain uses this vitamin
to help convert glucose, or blood sugar, into fuel, and
without it the brain rapidly runs out of energy. This can
lead to fatigue, depression, irritability, anxiety, and
even thoughts of suicide. Deficiencies can also cause
memory problems, loss of appetite, insomnia, and
gastrointestinal disorders. The consumption of refined
carbohydrates, such as simple sugars, drains the
body's B1 supply.
Vitamin B3 (niacin): Pellagra-which produces
psychosis and dementia, among other symptoms-was
eventually found to be caused by niacin deficiency.
Many commercial food products now contain niacin,
and pellagra has virtually disappeared. However,
subclinical deficiencies of vitamin B3 can produce
agitation and anxiety, as well as mental and physical
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid):
Symptoms of deficiency are fatigue, chronic stress,
and depression. Vitamin B5 is needed for hormone
formation and the uptake of amino acids and the brain
chemical acetylcholine, which combine to prevent
certain types of depression.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): This vitamin aids in the
processing of amino acids, which are the building
blocks of all proteins and some hormones. It is needed
in the manufacture of serotonin, melatonin and
dopamine. Vitamin B6 deficiencies, although very
rare, cause impaired immunity, skin lesions, and
mental confusion. A marginal deficiency sometimes
occurs in alcoholics, patients with kidney failure, and
women using oral contraceptives. MAOIs, ironically,
may also lead to a shortage of this vitamin. Many
nutritionally oriented doctors believe that most diets do
not provide optimal amounts of this vitamin.
Vitamin B12: Because vitamin B12 is important to
red blood cell formation, deficiency leads to an
oxygen-transport problem known as pernicious
anemia. This disorder can cause mood swings,
paranoia, irritability, confusion, dementia,
hallucinations, or mania, eventually followed by
appetite loss, dizziness, weakness, shortage of breath,
heart palpitations, diarrhea, and tingling sensations in
the extremities. Deficiencies take a long time to
develop, since the body stores a three- to five-year
supply in the liver. When shortages do occur, they are
often due to a lack of intrinsic factor, an enzyme that
allows vitamin B12 to be absorbed in the intestinal
tract. Since intrinsic factor diminishes with age, older
people are more prone to B12 deficiencies.
Folic acid: This B vitamin is needed for DNA synthesis.
It is also necessary for the production of SAM (S-
adenosyl methionine). Poor dietary habits contribute
to folic acid deficiencies, as do illness, alcoholism, and
various drugs, including aspirin, birth control pills,
barbiturates, and anticonvulsants. It is usually
administered along with vitamin B12, since a B12
deficiency can mask a folic acid deficiency. Pregnant
women are often advised to take this vitamin to
prevent neural tube defects in the developing
Subclinical deficiencies can produce depression,
which requires the use of supplements.
Supplementation is particularly important if you have
had surgery or an inflammatory disease. Stress,
pregnancy, and lactation also increase the body's
need for vitamin C, while aspirin, tetracycline, and
birth control pills can deplete the body's supply.
Deficiencies in a number of minerals can also
Magnesium: Deficiency can result in depressive
symptoms, along with confusion, agitation, anxiety,
and hallucinations, as well as a variety of physical
problems. Most diets do not include enough
magnesium, and stress also contributes to magnesium
Calcium: Depletion affects the central nervous
system. Low levels of calcium cause nervousness,
apprehension, irritability, and numbness.
Zinc: Inadequacies result in apathy, lack of
appetite, and lethargy. When zinc is low, copper in the
body can increase to toxic levels, resulting in paranoia
Iron: Depression is often a symptom of chronic iron
deficiency. Other symptoms include general
weakness, listlessness, exhaustion, lack of appetite,
Manganese: This metal is needed for proper use
of the B-complex vitamins and vitamin C. Since it also
plays a role in amino-acid formation, a deficiency may
contribute to depression stemming from low levels of
the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine.
Manganese also helps stabilize blood sugar and
prevent hypoglycemic mood swings.
Potassium: Depletion is frequently associated with
depression, tearfulness, weakness, and fatigue.
Find out more....