Supplementing with B Vitamins to counter depression

Although we’ve given a lot of attention to supplements that have been studied specifically for depression, such as SAM-e, DHEA, St. John’s Wort, Tryptophan, and 5-HTP, this note from the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Complementary Medicine website reminded us of the importance of looking at general nutritional status in assessing and responding to complex health conditions like depression. In this case, it’s a suggestion that supplementing with B Vitamins can have an impact on depressive symptoms.

See additional information in NYBC’s entry on its B Vitamin supplement.

Studies suggest that vitamin B9 (folate) may be associated with depression more than any other nutrient. Between 15% and 38% of people with depression have low folate levels in their bodies and those with very low levels tend to be the most depressed. Low folate levels tend to lead to elevated homocysteine levels. Many healthcare providers recommend a B complex multivitamin that contains folate as well as vitamins B6 and B12 to improve symptoms. If the multivitamin with these B vitamins is not enough to bring elevated homocysteine levels down, the physician may then recommend higher amounts of folate along with vitamins B6 and B12. Again, these three nutrients work closely together to bring down high homocysteine levels, which may be related to the development of depression.


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