Depression is an enormous problem across the world. In the United States alone, it's estimated that more than 14 million adults suffer from depression every single year. As you might expect, the causes of depression are many and varied, but vitamin B12 deficiency is one that might surprise you.
B12 deficiency has a wide range of symptoms, both physical and psychological, but depression is one of the most common. Despite this, even many doctors are unaware of the link, which has been well established in the medical literature for many years. As a result, thousands upon thousands of patients are treated for depression without ever discovering that the true underlying cause is a vitamin deficiency.
Of course, not all depression is caused by a lack of B12, but according to scientific research, itís possible that up to 30% of depression patients have low B12 levels. Thatís almost a third! Every single one of those people would probably benefit from taking dietary supplements.
There are a worrying number of cases where a patient has been treated for depression using all the standard techniques Ė counseling, therapy, antipsychotics, antidepressants etc. Ė for years before anyone thought to check their B12. Those who are suffering from a B12 deficiency will often find themselves completely free of depression and other debilitating neurological conditions within just a few months of B12 supplementation.
But as we all know, the one thing thatís better than treatment is prevention. So could B12 be used to prevent depression? The answer seems to be a resounding yes. It wonít work for everyone of course, but taking vitamin B12 tablets to maintain healthy blood levels will prevent deficiencies, which will in turn protect many people from depression. The other health benefits associated with good B12 levels are a pretty good side effect too!
There is a steadily growing body of evidence that suggests that it might be worth giving all depressed patients B12 supplements. Some studies have found that even where depression isnít caused by a lack of any vitamin, giving the patients supplementary B12 and folate actually improves their responses to other treatments like antidepressants and therapy.
It doesnít seem beyond the realms of possibility that vitamin B12 will one day be part of standard procedure for treating depressed people. For now, more research certainly needs to be done, but as B12 has extremely low toxicity and isnít harmful even in very large doses, wouldnít it be best to give patients extra B12 now? Even if the reasons for their depression are completely different, it wonít hurt them, and it could even help them to recover.