Depression is a common problem among people over the age of sixty. Not only does it keep seniors from enjoying life its fullest, but it also jeopardizes their mental and physical health. What if there was a natural way to reduce the risk of depression in seniors? According to a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vitaminsB6 and B12could play a role in whether or not older people develop depression.
B Vitamins and Depression: Intake of B6 and B12 May Affect the Risk
Researchers used questionnaires to analyze dietary habits and look for signs of depressionin3,500 seniors living in Chicago. After following them for over seven years, researchers concluded that intake of B6 and B12 vitamins correlated closely with their risk of depression. Those with the highest intake of these vitamins through supplements had the lowest risk of depression. Could vitamin B6 and B12 supplements be a way to keep seniors mentally healthy?
B Vitamins and Depression: What’s the Association?
The researchers who conducted this study were quick to point out that this study doesn’t prove that vitamin B6 and B12 supplements caused the lower risk of depression in seniors, just that there’s an association. On the other hand, these vitamins do play an important role in brain health. Vitamin B6 is important for the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine which play an important role in regulating mood. Deficiencies of vitamins B6 and B12 raise levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that’ soften elevated in depressed people. Several previous studies have shown correlation between low levels of B vitamins and depression.
Should Seniors Take B Vitamins for Depression?
Without larger studies, there’s not enough evidence to show that low intake of B6 andB12causesdepression-or that taking B vitamin supplements prevents it. More studies are needed to confirm this. Although B12 supplements are non-toxic and deficiencies are relatively common in seniors, taking high doses of B6 can be toxic. Levels higher than500 milligrams a day can cause neurological problems such as sensory neuropathy and nerve damage which may be permanent. The Food and Nutrition Board and the Institute of Medicine has set the upper daily limit at 100 milligrams per day for this vitamin for safety purposes.
B Vitamins and Depression: The Bottom Line
This study is certainly intriguing, but until more is known, it’s best for seniors to get their B vitamins naturally from foods-unless blood tests show they’re deficient in one of these vitamins. It’s a good idea for seniors to get a B12 level checked every year sinceB12 deficiency is relatively common in this age group. Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to serious and sometimes permanent neurological problems. Seniors should talk to their doctor about this.
References:Nutraingredients.com. “B-vitamins May Lead to Happier Seniors: Study”