Vitamin B12 & your mood

Vitamin B12 plays an important role in your mood. We need to feed our bodies to survive, yet we seldom think about the function of the foods we select. Are we getting the nutrition we need for our bodies and minds to function? Are we intentional in getting enough protein? Or balancing out carbohydrates with vegetables for fiber. Do you consider or think about micronutrients and vitamins when you choose to fuel your body and mind? Science has shown that a variety of vitamins, folic acids, and minerals all contribute to our mood and psychological wellbeing on a daily basis.

Vitamin B12 deficiencies are relatively uncommon, as most people are able to get the 2,4 micrograms they need daily from food. However, research suggested that some people are at an increased risk of developing B12 deficiencies, including those with gastric bypasses, certain autoimmune conditions, and individuals following a vegan or vegetarian diet. In recent years a vegetarian or even plant-based lifestyle has become a popular choice. There are good, science-based reasons for this (more environmentally sustainable, less negative impact on living animals, better for health purposes). However, joining a dietary lifestyle without proper research or access to information has resulted in an increased awareness of the link between B12 and psychological and neurological health.

We use to be able to get our B12 from the soil used in farming, however, due to a variety of reasons we can no longer rely on this to be enough. Therefore livestock is injected with B12 supplementation, making it easier for us to ingest enough ourselves. When, however, someone cuts meat products from their diet, B12 supplementation via ingestion stops. If someone is not aware of the need to find other supplementation or sources of B12, it can develop into a deficiency with many significant symptoms. Research from Harvard Health reports that a vitamin B12 deficiency can develop symptoms of depression, paranoia and delusions, memory loss, loss of taste and smell, and more.

Luckily, many foods are fortified with B12, making it relatively easy to ensure you are getting your daily requirement. These include fortified plant-based milk, cereals, and bread. Furthermore seeing your doctor to consider a B12 injection or taking oral supplementation, might be a more controlled way to get your daily dose. Studies have shown that consistently healthy B12 levels have been shown to decrease the likelihood of depressive episodes recurring. It also improves neurological functioning and keeps our bodies and minds working well.

If you suspect a B12 deficiency might be contributing to your mood, Hey Happy advises you to reach out to your general practitioner so that it can be confirmed and monitored via testing. If not carefully watched, too high B12 levels can have other significant symptoms.

written by Amanda Vannucci, clinical psychologist.

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