Perhaps we will never know now whether the suicide of the poet Kostas Kariotakis, whose entire work is full of deep pessimism and melancholy, is associated with a lack of some vital vitamins. However, according to scientific experts, a lack of them in the diet leads to mental disorders and reduces the quality of life.
Eftimia Kontela, specialist doctor, director of the emergency department of the city hospital, confirms that people suffering from “monstrous” depression are deficient in vitamin B12.
What is depression?
The term depression for most people is synonymous with sadness, hopelessness and dissatisfaction with life, when everything is seen in “dark colors”. Depressive disorders were first described by Hippocrates and were considered one of the most persistent, stable and well-diagnosed diseases.
The pathophysiology of depression is heterogeneous and includes biochemical changes in the brain, genetic predisposition, and environmental and personality factors.
Risk factors for the development of depression are significant changes in a person’s life, some mental or physical trauma, stressful situations, and abuse. However, when the desire for vigorous activity disappears (the inability to get out of bed: “why?) And lasts for several months, then we can assume that a person is depressed.
The main complaints of depressed patients are associated with painful feelings of anxiety, persistent sadness, frustration, loss of interest, fatigue, sleep problems, reduced ability to concentrate, and poor memory. Several studies over the past decade show that regular exercise and physical activity can reduce depression.
In addition, there seems to be a link between diet and depression. People with depression are deficient in many vitamins (due to the many stress hormones that break them down), and they especially eat a diet high in sugar, caffeine (mainly due to drinking too much coffee), dairy products, and excessive alcohol consumption …
As for vitamins, which may be lacking in the body of people suffering from depression, it has been found that as soon as their levels return to normal levels, depression “goes away.” A person can also improve their “mood” thanks to several amino acids, minerals, and hormones (vitamin D3, cortisol, testosterone).
What is vitamin B12 and what are its benefits?
Vitamin B12 or cobalamin is a water-soluble vitamin that our body cannot produce, but which is involved in the metabolism of cells in the human body and belongs to the B complex of vitamins.
The term vitamin B complex refers to the combination of 8 vitamins: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, folate (B9), B12 and biotin. These vitamins cannot be stored in the body, so their availability depends entirely on the daily diet.
B vitamins are broken down by alcohol, sugar, nicotine, caffeine, so it’s no surprise that many people can be deficient so often. Vitamin B12 is found in animal products, red meat, beef liver, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs and dairy products, and dietary supplements.
The main source of B12 in nature is bacteria, the only organisms that can produce this vitamin. In humans, these bacteria produce B12 in the large intestine. However, very little of it will be absorbed by the intestinal wall, so we must supplement with B12 to reach a satisfactory level.
What are the effects of vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is essential for many important hormonal and metabolic functions in the body. Including for the production of digestive enzymes and the transport of essential nutrients to and from cells. Adequate B12 levels are essential for normal blood formation and neurological function. This vitamin promotes the synthesis of many compounds in the body.
Vitamin B12 is essential for:
Providing Energy – Along with the other B vitamins, it does not directly provide energy, but it helps maintain the normal metabolism of amino acids, fats and carbohydrates. Vitamin B12 is involved in a number of intracellular processes to ensure cell health and adequate energy production. Normal functioning of the nervous system. Vitamin B12 with folic acid is essential for myelin synthesis. It is a substance that surrounds nerve fibers, which protects them and enables rapid signal transmission between nerve cells. If the myelin is damaged, impulse transmission is impaired. Thus, vitamin B12 is essential for the normal functioning of the nervous system. Preventing anemia. Often, good blood circulation is associated with high iron levels, but in fact, folate and vitamin B12 play the same role. Therefore, they are called hematopoietic vitamins. B12 assists in the division of red blood cells, which are needed to maintain constant oxygen circulation in the body. Constant oxygen circulation ensures the functioning of all critical processes. Hence, it is the deficiency of B12 and folic acid that, in fact, is often the cause of anemia.
Also, vitamin B12 helps the body get rid of excessive amounts of homocysteine, or waste products. They are produced by metabolism and are toxic to cells. Therefore, it is imperative that homocysteine is flushed out of the body. In this process, vitamin B12 helps protect the walls of blood vessels, preventing cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and dementia. DNA / RNA synthesis. Methylation. B12 is involved in a process in which a “methyl group” is donated to other molecules and thus maintains the body’s chemical balance and various functions. This seemingly simple process occurs billions of times per second. It is important for mood, brain function, energy production, detoxification, immune system, and many other functions. Methylation comes under attack when we are under stress.
Nowadays, there is a lot of talk about the consequences of lowering B12 intake due to the growing trend of people becoming vegetarians and vegans. However, there are other cases besides vegetarianism in which there is a B12 deficiency. These include gastrointestinal upset and persistent drug use, such as consuming metformin (known as glucophage) for stomach ulcers, overworking the liver (with regular alcoholic beverages), and taking certain medications such as antibiotics, tranquilizers, and sleeping pills.
What happens when we are deficient in vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause anemia, afternoon fatigue, inability to concentrate, lack of attention, poor memory, prolonged irritability and tearfulness, confusion, palpitations, diarrhea, and general malaise.
Since B12 plays a vital role in the nervous system, its absence can cause problems with nerve endings, especially in peripheral nerves. Over time, damage to peripheral nerves can lead to difficulty moving, numbness, and muscle weakness. Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency often appear as neurological symptoms long before the onset of typical hematological disorders. About one third of people who are deficient in folate or vitamin B12 are anemic. A similar proportion applies to a number of neuropsychiatric symptoms.
More than a third of psychiatric patients have been found to be deficient in folate or vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency increases with age.
Vitamins in the fight against anxiety and depression
5-Hydroxytryptophan or 5-HTP is a derivative of the amino acid tryptophan, which is converted in our body to serotonin, a substance that promotes a sense of mental well-being by acting on our brains.
Serotonin is a chemical that has many functions in the human body. It appears to play a role in appetite, emotion, mood, movement, behavior, and autonomic nervous system functions. It also seems to play a key role in maintaining mental balance. Low serotonin levels have been linked to depression.
B vitamins come into play to help our bodies maintain tryptophan levels and convert it to serotonin as much as possible. Folate and vitamin B12 are considered particularly important B vitamins because research has shown that they may play an important role in reducing the risk of developing or recurring clinical depression.
Many of the vitamins that increase serotonin levels in our body, as well as supplements that can improve the clinical picture in people with depression, can also reduce symptoms of anxiety.
The recommended daily intake of B12 for adults is 2.4 mcg, with no restrictions imposed, as this vitamin is not believed to have harmful effects even when taken in large quantities, according to the website iefimerida.gr (but before listening to for summarized data, consult your doctor. Do not self-medicate!).
Elderly people are advised to take it through fortified foods or multivitamins because they do not absorb B12 well.
What types of vitamin B12 preparations are there?
Vitamin B12 is found in:
capsules; tablets under the tongue; in the form of injections; the form of a gel that acts through the skin.
In studies of depressed patients treated with antidepressants for more than six months, their blood levels of vitamin B12 were measured at two different time intervals, six months apart. Those who responded more fully to treatment were found to have higher concentrations of vitamin B12 in their bodies both at the beginning and at the end of the study period.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Germany are working to develop a nutritional supplement that “fights” postpartum depression.
However, the role of B vitamins in the treatment of depression is not entirely clear, and more research is needed to investigate the exact correlation between the two. Supplements are by no means a substitute for antidepressant treatment or psychological support for a sick person. However, they seem to play a positive role in combination therapy approaches.
What you need to always remember and observe
What the phrase tells us: “A healthy mind is in a healthy body!” Is still true. It is a fact that the interaction between body and soul is two-way. Lack of nutrition and hormonal fluctuations can have a negative impact on our psyche, which in turn affects mood and diet, creating a vicious circle from which additional help is needed to get out.
That is why it is recommended to always listen to the “voice” of your body and its needs.