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Feeling Blue? Reach for Vitamin B

A study published in the June 2010 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recently found that B vitamins may help mature adults avoid depression.

The study included more than 3,500 participants over the age of 65 years in Chicago.

Researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Illinois determined dietary intakes of vitamin B using food frequency questionnaires. Depressive symptoms were assessed using a well known 10 item depression scale developed by the Center for Epidemiologic Studies.

Over a 7.2 year follow-up period, the researchers found that increased intakes of vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 were associated with a decrease in the likelihood of depression. For every 10 milligram increase of B6 and for every 10 microgram increase of B12 there was a 2% decreased risk of depression per year.

Another study conducted by researchers at the University of Kuopio in Finland looked at the mechanism behind the link between vitamin B and depression. The study was published in the March, 2003 issue of BMC Psychiatry.

The researchers found that vitamin B12 is involved in the production of monoamines, which regulate mood, behavior, sleep and appetite. They also noted that vitamin B12 may inhibit the accumulation of the amino acid homocysteine. Data from other studies indicated that 52% of depressed patients have raised levels of homocysteine.

B vitamins play a very important role in many essential functions in the human body including nervous system function, red blood cell formation, and hormone function. Previous studies have also found a potential link between these important vitamins and reductions in the risk of stroke, hearing loss and birth defects.

You can get your daily dose of B vitamins naturally through a variety of foods including green leafy vegetables, dried beans, lentils and peas.

The man-made version of vitamin B is called folic acid and it can be found in supplement form and as an additive in foods like bread, cereal and grains.

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