Vitamins, Minerals and Depression

B Vitamin Caplets

As with many illnesses, there is a connection between nutrition and depression.

The common treatments for depression are well known: talk therapy or medication. Less known, but of more interest to some, are alternative therapies, like acupuncture, yoga, stress management, meditation and certain potions or plants. Vitamins and other nutrients are also on the list of alternative approaches to treating the symptoms of depression.

Vitamins That Could Help

A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry detailed several cases where Vitamin B12 and folate (Vitamin B9), two of the B-complex vitamins, were shown to relieve the symptoms of depression and other mood disorders in female patients above the age of 60. A number of case studies were presented. Each of the patients suffered from B12 and/or folate deficiency, and in each, the patient’s depressive symptoms went into remission soon after treatment.

Vitamin D is another vitamin that can aid in the reduction of depressive symptoms. Most people these days are deficient in vitamin D. The primary source of this vitamin is sunlight, and these days we all spend less time in the sun because of cancer fears.

A paper published in 2010 in the journal Issues in Mental Health Nursing looked at a variety of studies that examined the impact of vitamin D deficiency on those with depression and other mood disorders. Not all of them were able to point to the benefits of vitamin D therapy, but a significant number found treatment with vitamin D supplements eased symptoms of mood disorders.

Minerals That Could Help

Magnesium is another nutrient that the population tends to be deficient in. Most people take in about 250mg daily, when the recommended daily allowance is between 320mg and 420mg daily. Add to this depletion as the result of stress, and most Americans are seriously deficient.

As far back as the 1960s magnesium deficiency was identified as a cause of depression, behavioral disturbances, psychosis and irritability, among other disorders. There are a few current studies that document the efficacy of magnesium and suggest dosages needed to gain relief from mood disorders.

Calcium absoprtion by the bones is inhibited when SSRIs, commonly prescribed to treat depression, are consumed. This can cause a predisposition to osteoporosis. Consuming daily recommended levels of calcium can help offset this problem.

Not all vitamins or minerals will directly address mood disorders; the value of some is that they support cellular or organ activity. However, a healthy diet and a full complement of the recommended daily vitamins might lead to better health, which would be one less thing for a patient to have to worry about. If symptoms are relieved along the way, that’s a bonus.

Sources: US National Library of Medicine, NIH (overview) , US National Library of Medicine, NIH (Vit B12 and Vit B) , US National Library of Medicine, NIH (Magnesium) and US National Library of Medicine, NIH (Vit D)


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