Recent studies have shown that vitamin B12 deficiencies are associated with depression.
Research published in December 2021 found that those who have a vitamin B12 deficiency had a greater risk of symptoms of depression.
The anxiety and Depression Association of America says that about 264 million people around the world live with symptoms of depression. Additionally, statistics show that in 2017 roughly 17.3 million adults in the US had experienced at least one major episode of depression.
By 2019 the number jumped from 17.3 million adults to 19.4 million adults that had experienced at least one major depressive episode.
According to the CDC, data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey revealed that women are roughly twice as likely as men to experience depression, and this pattern was seen in each age group that was surveyed.
The December 2021 study referenced above link B12 deficiencies with incidents of symptoms of depression in the elderly.
A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition sought to evaluate the association between vitamin B12, folate and the incidence of depression in older individuals, they included 3849 individuals over the age of 50 in the study.
The outcome showed a link between vitamin B12 deficiency but not with the folate deficiency. The researchers discovered that even when taking into consideration factors such as chronic disease, cardiovascular disease, antidepressant use, vitamin D status and physical activity the results remain a significant.
During the four years of this study the older adults who had a B12 deficiency had a 51% greater likelihood of developing symptoms of depression. The data from the study also revealed that certain factors influenced the vitamin B12 status in older adults. These factors were geographic location, obesity, smoking, gender and socioeconomic status.
Vitamin D Deficiency And Mental Health
One such study as the one in discussion highlighted the importance of getting adequate nutrition for optimal health. Notwithstanding the importance of vitamin B12 there are also other nutrients which have a significant effect on mental health. For instance vitamin D is one of those nutrients to have an important role on mental health. One can become deficient in vitamin D when they consume less than the recommended level, do not get enough sunlight, the absorption from the gut is inadequate, or the kidneys failed to convert the vitamin to its active form. Many scientists believe that vitamin D deficiency is a significant problem which is generally overlooked.
Early research as far back as the year 2000 revealed that there were significantly different levels of vitamin D3 and patients who suffer from alcohol addiction and from depression. Research had revealed to researchers by 2007 that low levels of vitamin D had a significant effect on mood.
Still further research discovered that those with fibromyalgia had a high risk of low serum levels of vitamin D and it appeared that supplementing with high doses of vitamin D in individuals who were overweight and depressed could actually ameliorate the symptoms.
In 2018 the British Journal of Psychiatry published a systematic review and meta-analysis that established low levels of vitamin D are associated with depression. One of things that has been pointed out by some is that if one’s vitamin D level is optimal they will gain no benefit from supplementing with vitamin D, the effect is more likely to be found in those who have low serum levels of vitamin D.
Another valuable nutrient in helping relieve the symptoms of depression are omega-3 fats. Vitamin D, B12 and omega-3 fats are common deficiencies found in the general population as well as in older adults. Notwithstanding depression and other mental issues that can be caused by deficiencies in these nutrients, a lack of optimal levels of nutrients is a significant contributor to the development of disease, and inflammation. Inflammation is associated with depression and depression affects the quality of life as well as the ability to be productive.
Many people, the elderly included, are treated for depression with different medications. However a first and more than likely more effective approach would be to seek out any nutritional deficiencies, address the deficiencies, and then make any necessary or needed tweaks.