Mood-lifting drugs are not the only means you can cope with depression. Drugs, if you must know, contain many toxic ingredients that can damage your internal organs. They also come with side effects, some of which are even life-threatening. Unless you are experiencing depression in its severe form, experts would suggest taking other mood-lifting measures instead.
If you must know, there are safer alternatives to medications, and they come in the form of vitamins. Yes, vitamins, especially the B-Vitamins, Vitamin C and Vitamin D, can help greatly in curbing depression.
The B-Vitamins and Depression
The role of the B-Vitamins in preventing and treating depression cannot at all be taken for granted. Studies are showing that depressed individuals are found to be deficient in these essential vitamins. The body does not produce and store these B-vitamins, after all, and so the vitamins that we can get from foods are easily destroyed by alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and refined sugar. As we age, our bodies become less able to absorb these vitamins, too, the reason why depression is very common among the older group.
Making up the family of B-Vitamins that are essential in depression treatment are:
- Vitamin B1. Known also as Thiamine, Vitamin B1 specifically takes charge in converting blood sugar into useful energy. Too much consumption of refined sugar reduces Vitamin B1 levels, resulting to fatigue, irritability, confusion, memory loss, difficulty sleeping, depression and anxiety (sometimes with suicidal thoughts). To keep the levels up, make sure to have 100 mg of Thiamine a day.
- Vitamin B3. Otherwise called Niacin, Vitamin B3 is needed to ensure a healthy metabolism. It also helps clear the body of toxins. Niacin is abundant in commercially-prepared food items, but the body can still become deficient of this vitamin somehow. People who lack Niacin can become depressed, agitated or anxious. In severe Niacin deficiency, schizophrenia or psychosis may result.
- Vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 or Pyridoxine is involved in the production of serotonin, a chemical in the brain that regulates mood. Drugs, alcohol and oral contraceptives can affect the absorption of Vitamin B6. Although severe deficiency in this vitamin is not usual, people who lack Pyridoxine are found to be weak, irritable, nervous, depressed, and many of them have cracked lips and skin and mouth disorders.
- Vitamin B9. Vitamin B9 or Folic Acid is necessary in synthesizing DNA and the formation of cells, especially red blood cells. It also supports the central nervous system, preventing neural defects in babies. Folic Acid deficiency, which manifests in insomnia, fatigue, confusion, anemia, gingivitis, loss of appetite, and hair loss, can occur as a result of stress, and consumption of alcoholic beverages, drugs, birth control pills, anticonvulsants, and aspirin.
- Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 or Cobalamin, the last of the B-vitamin, is definitely not the least important. Like Folic Acid, Cobalamin is also involved in the formation of red blood cells, which is essential in the health of the nervous system. Deficiency in Cobalamin, which is often due to the inability of the intestine to absorb the vitamin, manifests in anemia, mouth and tongue sores, tingling, depression, confusion, memory loss, and weakness.
Vitamin C and Depression
Another key vitamin in the fight against depression is Vitamin C. Vitamin C or Ascorbic Acid helps in the production of serotonin, earning it the title "natural antidepressant". Only a gram of ascorbic acid a day is necessary to bring about significant reduction in depression symptoms.
Vitamin D and Depression
Seasonal depression is a type of depression that occurs during the winter months. It is believed that not getting enough sunshine is what causes this type of depression. Individuals suffering from this type of depression appear to have low levels of Vitamin D. Consuming Vitamin D supplements, therefore, can prevent bouts of depression especially during the cold months.