Depression can be a sign of vitamin B deficiency, research suggests.
The study found that people who were depressed responded better to treatment when they had high levels of vitamin B12 in their blood.
For the study, 115 people suffering from depression were split into three groups depending on how well they were responding to treatment.
Blood tests revealed that those who did best had the highest concentrations of vitamin B12.
Those who remained the most depressed had the lowest levels of vitamin B12.
Good sources of vitamin B12 include fish, poultry, eggs and low-fat milk.
Fortified breakfast cereals also contain vitamin B12.
People who may have difficult getting enough vitamin B12 include vegetarians, older people and those with some digestive disorders, such as Crohn’s disease.
The study’s authors write:
“As far as we know, there have been no previous studies that have suggested a positive relationship between vitamin B12 and the treatment outcome in patients with major depressive disorder who have normal or high vitamin B12 levels.”
Other studies have shown that elderly people who take vitamin B supplements respond better to depression treatment.
However, the picture is still mixed on the role of vitamin B12 in depression.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal BMC Psychiatry (Hintikka et al., 2003).