Vitamins for Depression: Nutritional Treatments for Its Overlooked Cause
Vitamins for Depression - As the songwriter said, everybody gets the blues. Occasional depression is a fact of life, and as many as 3 out of 10 people in North America will suffer the more serious "clinical depression" at least once in life. Depression is a common reaction to life's stresses.
What is it, though, that makes common stressors impossible to deal with?The frank answer is, it's a lack of brainpower. The common treatments for depression don't help you deal with stress. Vitamins for depression can.
At its peak performance state, usually around the age of 30, the human brain may have approximately 100 billion nerve cells. Each of these neurons is connected to every other neuron through approximately 10,000 different paths. This yields a mind-boggling 1,000 trillion cell-to-cell connections, that is, a quadrillion nerve pathways.
As we grow older, pathways are lost. In people with Alzheimer's disease and other conditions related to deficiencies in the vitamins for depression, up to 90 percent of the neuron-to-neuron connections in the brain are destroyed by inflammation. In the rest of us, lesser damage simply causes us diminished intellectual capacity and an ever-increasing tendency toward depression.
But what if there was some method to allow the brain to repair itself? What if there was a way to give the brain a "rest" so that the macrophages and inflammatory chemicals that damage the brain could be cleared out of circulation. Is the only way you can do this to take some kind of cocktail of vitamins for depression and boosting brain health?
Actually, there two methods:
Vitamins for depression
Scientists noticed long ago that Alzheimer's disease a little more than half as frequent in Asia as it in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
They also noticed people in Asian countries tend to consume a little more than half as many calories as people in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
Calorie comparisons are a clumsy way of comparing food intake, since people who eat more tend to have not only greater fat mass but also greater muscle mass. Heavier people tend to use their muscles less efficiently and actually burn more calories.
The weight of the evidence, however, is that the cognitive decline that leads to chronic mild depression and in some cases to Alzheimer's disease is the result of cumulative oxidative stress on the tissue of the brain. Oxidative stress occurs when the brain burns glucose for fuel.
Oxidative stress is most easily repaired when there's less oxidation going on, when fewer calories have been consumed. Getting the right vitamins for depression helps later, but the first step is preventing excessive oxidation.
Does this mean you have to diet for life?
Researchers have investigated whether the brain benefits more from reducing calorie intake all the time, that is the nearly impossible task of trying to force a large appetite to be satisfied with a little food on a lifelong basis, or, in the absence of providing vitamins for depression, whether periodic, short-term fasting might be sufficient.
The kinds of fasts that American scientists have studied are at the outer range of what most Americans are willing to do, going without food for 12 to 18 hours. That's the equivalent of going to bed without your supper, and certainly without your midnight snack.
What researchers have found is that these mini-fasts give the brain a chance to repair itself and prevent depression. In fact, occasional fasts, even if you eat enough at meals when you stop the fast, is just as good for your body as dieting every day, in terms of effects on body weight, body fat, oxidation, blood pressure, heart rate, insulin levels, HDL, and homocysteine.
If you can't stick to a diet for twelve weeks, just stick to a diet for twelve hours. It will do your body essentially as much good. Even if you eat "too much" later.
The other simple intervention against depression is taking a daily B vitamin, or a balanced nutritional supplement supplying the basic vitamins for depression, vitamin B12, folic acid, and vitamin B6.
One of the chemicals that "clogs the brain" and causes depression is homocysteine. What are the signs that homocysteine is contributing to depression?
The best indicator is a blood test finding a homocysteine level of over 16 micromoles per liter. There can also be:
Abdominal pain or nausea after meals
Fever if when there is no infection
Darkened skin on the backs of the fingers and toes
Red or shiny tongue
The amino acid homocysteine is a normal byproduct of the body's metabolism of another amino acid, methionine. When there is not enough folic acid, homocysteine tends to build up in the bloodstream and in the brain.
At least one study has found that homocysteine is most dangerous when there is suppressed anger. Homocysteine is a factor in depression in persons who have Alzheimer's disease, Crohn's disease, embolism, diabetes, hypothyrodism, or osteoporosis.
The folic acid deficiency that leads to high homocysteine levels can result for any of a number of causes. Folates are destroyed by heat, so people who eat mostly boiled foods are predisposed to folic acid deficiency.
Folic acid deficiency is common in heavy drinkers. It occurs in people who have liver or kidney disease. It can also result from vitamin B12 deficiency, most frequently in vegans who have not taken supplemental vitamin 12. They kidneys force folic acid out of the body when there is not enough vitamin B12 to prevent accumulation of a byproduct of its use.
What, then, are the vitamins for depression?
Folic acid, 400 to 1,000 micrograms per day
Vitamin B6: 10 to 50 milligrams per day
Vitamin B12: 30 to 300 micrograms per day
It's also helpful to take 8 to 15 milligrams of zinc per day for up to 3 months at a time, or continuously if you take a supplement that provides at least 1 mg of copper.
Not every vitamin lowers homocysteine. Taking more than 1,000 milligrams of vitamin B3 (in the form of nicotinamide) lowers cholesterol bur raises homocysteine. If you experience depression while taking vitamin B3 to lower cholesterol, take the other vitamins for depression, and consider other ways of lowering cholesterol
Homocysteine levels also go up during dieting to lose weight. If you must cut your calories, cut them by 12 to 18 hour fasts every other day.
Also helpful is avoiding caffeine. Two studies have found that people experiencing major depression tend to consume high amounts of caffeine, the equivalent of 6 or more cups of coffee a day.
And although caffeine is bad for depression, the combination of caffeine and sugar is worse. In one study, 7 out of 16 depressed patients became symptom-free simply by giving up caffeine and sugar.
You can get all your vitamins for depression from a B-100 vitamin B supplement, but vitamins for nutrition should be only one part of your complete nutritional program. Get all the nutrients you need for brain health, eat until your full but don't force yourself to eat three squares a day, and in addition to your vitamins for depression, take a balanced daily nutritional supplement that you don't have to take with food.
One company that produces a balanced daily nutritional supplement you don't need to take with food is Xtend-Life Natural Products from New Zealand. Their flagship product, Total Balance,
is a balanced daily nutritional supplement containing all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients you need in a single, easy-to-take blend with an enteric coating so you can take it anytime without food.
We take Total Balance ourselves and are very happy with the results. It is in covered it in detail in the "what we take tab" on the upper left hand portion of this page.