Do you suffer from seasonal affective disorder? Do you dread the coming of winter every year? It’s thought that the lower light levels and shorter days of winter trigger this problem. But vitamin deficiencies may have more to do with it than you think.
Vitamin B Deficiency Can Cause Seasonal Depression
Most people don’t realize how important the B vitamins are. If you have low levels of these nutrients, your chances are much higher of developing some form of depression, seasonal or otherwise.
Your body doesn’t keep a store of these nutrients in reserve. Plus they’re easily destroyed, by caffeine, nicotine, refined sugar, and alcohol. You need to replenish your supplies every day, either through diet or supplements.
What Do The B Vitamins Do?
Let’s run down the list and find out:
- B-1 – Thiamine converts blood sugar into the fuel that runs your body, especially your brain. Low thiamine levels make you feel tired and irritable. Depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts may follow. Eating too much sugar will result in lower levels.
- B-3 – Niacin deficiency used to be a lot more common. Known as pellagra, this condition results in psychosis and dementia. It’s not seen very much now because niacin is added to foods. But low levels of this nutrient can make you feel agitated and anxious.
- B-5 – if your pantothentic acid levels are low, you may feel stressed out all the time. And of course, feeling stressed can lead to fatigue and depression.
- B-6 – Did you know that pyridoxine is used by your body to manufacture serotonin and melatonin? Not having enough of these two substances in your body can lead to insomnia, and you guessed it, depression.
- B-12 – Pernicious anemia results from not having enough B-12 in your system. Moodiness, irritability, and paranoia are only a few of the symptoms. Older people are more prone to B-12 deficiencies. In fact, some older people who are thought to have Alzheimer’s may instead be suffering from a deficiency of this nutrient. If an older relative is showing signs of dementia, it’s worthwhile to have their B-12 levels checked.
- Folic Acid – low levels have been linked to depression. It’s been shown that antidepressant medications may not work as well if you don’t have enough folic acid in your system.
Vitamin D And Depression
A recent study of 12,600 people has revealed that people with low levels of the “sunshine vitamin” are more prone to becoming depressed. It certainly makes sense that seasonal affective disorder could be related to not having enough of this nutrient. Not only is there less sunlight during the cold season, but people tend to stay inside more, too.
Researchers now recommend that people between the ages of one and 70 should be getting 600 international units of vitamin D every day. If you’re over 70, 800 international units are recommended.
Don’t neglect good nutrition this winter. Eating well may help you get through the winter months without becoming a victim of seasonal depression.