Feeling depressed can be a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency, a study finds.
People with a vitamin B12 deficiency are three times more likely to be experiencing ‘melancholic’ depression.
Melancholic depression mostly involves depressed mood.
Some of the other most common symptoms of depression are decreased interest in life or pleasure, energy loss and concentration problems.
The study also found a link between low folate intake and depression.
Folates include vitamin B9, folacin and folic acid.
People with a low intake of folates were 50 percent more likely to be experiencing melancholic depression.
The research included 2,806 Finnish people whose nutritional status and depression symptoms were assessed.
Although vitamin B12 and folates were linked to melancholic depression, the same link was not seen with non-melancholic depression.
Symptoms of non-melancholic depression cluster around anxiety and low self-esteem, with less emphasis on depressed mood.
Dr Jussi Seppälä, the study’s first author, said:
“The findings have practical implications in the care of patients with depressive symptoms.
For example, it may be wise to avoid medication causing weight gain among patients with non-melancholic depression, whereas melancholic depressive symptoms may call for a closer look at the quality of the patient’s diet.”
Boosting B12 and folate intake
Vitamin B12 deficiency is easy to rectify with supplements or by dietary changes.
The body uses vitamin B12 to make red blood cells and to keep the nervous system healthy.
Other common signs of vitamin B12 deficiency include experiencing muscle weakness and being constipated.
Meanwhile, some of the best dietary sources of folates include:
- and whole-grains.
Folate levels are particularly high in chickpeas, yeast extract, lentils and broad beans.
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 of Affective Disorders (Seppälä et al., 2012).