The internet is awash with information on nutrition, but which vitamins make a real difference in depression levels? The research is out there on what the best vitamins for depression are, but difficult to access. Everyone is trying to sell you their product, but so few back their statements up with solid facts. I hope the information below can shed some light on the topic! Dr. JM Larson, in her groundbreaking book Depression Free, Naturally, puts it succinctly:
“Studies show us that emotional symptoms develop as a direct result of the unavailability of brain and body chemicals. These important chemicals create our stable emotions, behaviors, thought and sanity.”
Can vitamins actually help with depression?
The answer is straight forward. YES! Numerous studies have shown that vitamin supplementation can improve recovery and outcomes for depression and anxiety.
Can’t I just eat the right food?
Although our main source of vitamins is the food we eat, we unfortunately have a few problems to overcome in this area:
1. The stresses that we put our bodies through in our modern lives are way higher than our bodies were designed for.
2. The poison laden food that reaches our table is often of low nutritional value – it might make you fat, but it can’t make you happy. Recent studies are linking poisons like Roundup with Depression, infertility and autism.
3. A lot of our food is laden with preservatives and sugar. This limits the body’s natural ability to absorb the nutritional components available in the food.
Which leads us to the obvious question…
Which are the best vitamins for depression?
A search of PubMed reveals that many people are looking at Vitamins and their various functions with new eyes. As some research is still ongoing, I only included the vitamins here that are proven to make a difference. I’m sure more will be added as more research is completed.
B vitamins play an essential role in the maintaining the health of our nervous system.
A lack of B1 causes confusion and memory loss among others. Even mild deficiencies of B (Niacin) causes depression, fatigue, apprehension, and insomnia (Hoffer). B6 helps to metabolize the amino acids to neurotransmitters. Deficiencies can result in anxiety, depression and exhaustion. B5 is called the anti stress vitamin, as a lack of it causes depression and irritability. A lack of B12 causes insanity! – (Harvard Article)
On and on it goes. It’s clear that B complex vitamins are absolutely essential if you want to be free from depression.
B Vitamins are so important to our mental health, that I’ve created a whole page just about them.
These vitamins are water soluble, which means that our bodies should absorb them easily, but also that they pass through quickly. When we are in a depressive state, its helpful to take large doses, so that the body can absorb all it needs.
“Vitamin C has gained interest for its multiple
functions in various tissues and organs, including central nervous
system. Vitamin C protects the neuron (nerves) against oxidative stress, alleviates inflammation, regulates the neurotransmission, affects neuronal development and controls epigenetic function. All of these processes are closelyassociated with psychopathology.
In the past few decades, scientists have revealed that the deficiency of vitamin C may lead to motor deficit, cognitive impairment and aberrant behaviors, whereas supplement of vitamin C has a potential preventive and therapeutic effect on mental illness, such as major depressive disorder, anxiety and Alzheimer’s.” – (Vitamin C article)
We need that Vitamin C if we’re going to kick depression.
How much and how often?
Most of the articles I have found agree that the amounts of vitamins needed to cause a change are quite significant. Larson suggests a multivitamin regime that includes 100mg of B3, and 200mg of B12 and others. You will find that most multivitamins in the market are way too low in actual dosage to make a significant difference. Check your dosages on the bottle before buying! Also, note that very few of the B complex vitamin formulations I’ve seen contain any B3(niacin or nicotinamide) at all. You might have to get that separately if buying from your pharmacy or health store.
Where do I find what I need?
Multivitamins and supplements are available all over the show, but many of them are either low quality, or have formulations that lack punch were it matters. If they are all you can access however, I suggest you look for the highest dosages in B3, B6 and B12 you can find. Add 1000mg of Vitamin C to that for starters. (this is a very safe dose)
Better yet however, is to get hold of Dr Joan Matthews Larson’s book; Depression Free; Naturally. This will help you assess yourself properly and create your own “recipe for success”!
So are vitamins the answer for depression?
B complex and vitamin C are not the only ones that have an impact on your health and depressive state, but the evidence is simpler and clearer than other vitamins which may have a more important role in the rest of the body. We are one system however, so always make sure that you eat fresh and healthy food as often as possible.
For more information on other supplements that make a major difference to depression
You are welcome to have a look at my “Feel Good Diet“. It’s simply what I found works best for me.