There are a variety of treatment options available for depression, and knowing how to use vitamins can be an inexpensive treatment supplement.
While many severe cases are best treated with prescription pharmaceuticals, milder cases brought on by vitamin deficiencies can be alleviated just by increasing your intake of one or more of the following vitamins:
The B-Complex Vitamins B1 (thiamine) - Required for the conversion of glucose into fuel for the brain.
B3 (niacin) - Added to food after it was discovered that niacin deficiency produces psychosis and dementia.
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B5 (pantothenic acid) - Lack of B5 causes fatigue and stress. Needed to form amino acids that prevent depression.
B6 (pyridoxine) - Also assists with amino acid production, and the manufacture of serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine. Only rarely do deficiencies occur, usually in alcoholics, those with kidney dysfunction, and women taking oral contraceptives.
B9 (folic acid) - Required for DNA creation and repair. Depletion can cause neural tube defects in unborn children, and results from poor diet, drug or alcohol abuse, illness, and a number of other factors.
B12 (cobalamin) - Vital for red blood cell formation, deficiency of B12 leads to anemia, causing mood swings, dementia, mania, confusion, shortness of breath, diarrhea and tingling in the extremities. Deficiencies take a long time to develop, and usually affect older individuals.
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Vitamin C In extreme cases, deficiencies in vitamin C can cause their own pathology, but even smaller deficiencies can cause depression-like symptoms. These deficiencies can arise from diet, or from surgery, pregnancy, or stress, and the use of drugs like aspirin and birth control pills can further lower the body's supply.
Minerals Make sure you are also getting enough of the following minerals, a deficiency in any one of which can cause depression-like symptoms:
Manganese - Required for the proper metabolism of the above-mentioned B and C vitamins. Deficiencies cause confusion and anxiety. Stress worsens dietary deficiency.
Calcium - Depletion results in irritability, nervousness, and numbness.
Zinc - Not getting enough zinc can lead to apathy and lethargy, as well as a toxic buildup of copper.
Iron - One of the most common causes of depression symptoms is iron depletion.
Magnesium - Decreased levels can lead to confusion, agitation, and anxiety. It is one of the more commonly ignored minerals.
Potassium - Deficiency causes depression, weakness, fatigue, and tearfulness.
If you suspect you or a loved one may be clinically depressed, it's best to see a specialist. Knowing how to use vitamins, however, is safe and cost effective to manage less extreme cases of depression.