Depression has been classified as a mood disorder or affective disorder. Mood is defined as a pervasive and sustained emotion that, in the extreme, markedly affects a person’s perception of the world and ability to adequately function in society. Mood disorders are among the most common encountered in clinical practice and are divided into depressive disorders and bipolar disorders. There are over 187 million adults in the United States – and about 19 million of these people will experience a depressive episode in any given year, making depression the most common psychiatric disorder encountered in general medical practice. Women are two to three times more likely to experience depression than men.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is a water soluble vitamin that is instrumental in more than 100 enzyme reactions in the body. These activities are mostly related to the metabolism of amino acids and proteins. Vitamin B6 deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies. Much of this is due to the fact that a lot of vitamin B6 is lost during cooking and food processing. A U.S. Department of Agriculture study reported that 80 percent of Americans consume less than the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin B6.
Cobalamin is the common name for vitamin B12 because it contains the heavy metal cobalt, which gives this water-soluble vitamin its red color. Vitamin B12 is essential for growth and plays a role in metabolism within cells, especially those of the gastrointestinal tract, bone marrow and nervous tissue. It also lowers homocysteine levels, enhances cognitive performance, decreases risk of osteoporosis. Vitamin B12 is not found in plants, but it is produced by bacteria in the digestive tract of animals, which explains why animal protein products are the only dietary source of this nutrient.
A current study examined whether vitamins B-6, folate or vitamin B-12 were predictive of depression symptoms in older adults. The study included 3,503 bi-racial (59% African American) aged 65 years or older. The participants’ dietary intake was assessed using food questionnaires and depression incidence was measured by the presence of 4 or more depressive symptoms. The results revealed that higher intakes of vitamins B-6 and B-12 (which included supplementation) were associated with a decreased risk of depression for up to 12 years of follow-up. There was no link between depression and folate intake. It was found that each 10 additional milligrams of vitamin B-6 and 10 additional micrograms of B-12 were associated with a 2% decrease in the likelihood of depressive symptoms per year. The results appear to indicate that higher dietary intakes of vitamins B-6 and B-12 are protective of depression in older adults.1
1 Skarupski KA, Tangney C, Li H, et al. Longitudinal association of vitamin B-6, folate, and vitamin B-12 with depressive symptoms among older adults over time. Am J Clin Nutr. Jun2010.