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Vitamin B can help fight depression

2 min read

Research supports notion that B vitamins improve patients' response to anti-depressants

Researchers from Kuopio University Hospital in Finland studied 115 patients who were suffering from depression, the study was conducted over a six-month period. Their findings, published in BMC Psychiatry, supports the idea that by taking supplements of the vitamin patients may experience a better response to anti-depressants. 

The patients were assessed on how well they responded to treatment of their depression - this was classed as either "not at all", "partially" or "fully". The researchers measured the level of B12 in the patients' blood when they returned to the clinic for a six-month check-up, and by doing this they were able to assess whether the level of vitamin they had in their blood influenced how well they responded to treatment. 

Findings concluded that those who responded the best were also those with higher concentrations of vitamin B12 - this was the case at both the start and end of the study. Furthermore, this link remained significant even when the researchers took account of other factors such as the type of treatment, smoking and drinking habits and family history of depression.

Other studies have shown a link between elderly patients with depression responding better to treatment if they had supplements of vitamins B1, B2 and B6.

In another study of people with panic disorders, OCD and depression the B vitamin inositol in amounts of up to 18 grams daily was as effective and had fewer side effects than an anti-anxiety medication.

How do the B Vitamins work?

  • Vitamin B1 is important for blood sugar control and this has a major impact on anxiety.
  • Vitamin B3 is involved in many enzymatic processes and plays a key role in serotonin synthesis. At does of 1,000 to 3,000 mg a day, it may be helpful for anxiety.
  • Vitamin B5 is very important for the adrenals and therefore helps with modulating stress.
  • Folic acid and vitamin B12 are important for depression, and given the links between anxiety and depression, they may also be helpful for anxiety. They also support heart health, which is important if you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks, which stress the heart.

If you take individual B vitamins, it is wise to also take a good B complex supplement to help prevent imbalances among these vitamins, which work together to be most beneficial to health.

Sources of B Vitamins

Vitamin B12 is found mainly in foods from animal sources, especially liver, oily fish and egg yolk. Good food sources of the B vitamins include liver, meat, turkey, whole grains, potatoes, bananas, legumes, nutritional yeast and molasses. Supplementation provides a convenient way to ensure you are receiving all the B vitamins in the right amounts.

A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.