Problems concentrating and energy loss can be signs of vitamin B12 deficiency, studies find.
Depressive symptoms like these, along with low mood, can signal a lack of the crucial vitamin.
People with a vitamin B12 deficiency are three times more likely to be experiencing ‘melancholic’ depression, studies have shown.
Other, common signs of vitamin B12 deficiency include feeling tired, experiencing muscle weakness and being constipated.
The body uses vitamin B12 to make red blood cells and to keep the nervous system healthy.
Up to one-quarter of people may have a vitamin B12 deficiency.
The good news is that vitamin B12 is easy to correct either with supplementation or a change in diet.
Foods high in vitamin B12 include dairy, beef, salmon, eggs and low-fat milk.
Research has even shown that B-group vitamins can help people suffering from psychosis to maintain their concentration skills.
A recent study included 100 young people who were experiencing their first episode of psychosis.
They were randomly assigned to either receive B-vitamins or a placebo for 12 weeks.
The results showed that those given B-vitamins performed better on tests of concentration at the end of the study.
Dr Kelly Allott , the study’s first author, said:
“This indicates the B-vitamins could have a neuroprotective effect; although they are not improving a patient’s concentration skills, they may be protecting these skills from declining.
Psychosis is a diverse condition where everybody presents with different symptoms and a different biological profile.
What was particularly interesting was that the participants who had abnormally high homocysteine levels at baseline were most responsive to the B-vitamin supplements, in terms of improvement in attention.
The results of this study support a more personalised approach to vitamin supplementation in first episode psychosis, suggesting those with elevated homocysteine are likely to benefit most.”
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 Biological Psychiatry (Allott et al., 2019).