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  • Writer's pictureLori-Anne Victoria

Vitamin B12 for a Sunny Mood

Vitamin b12 and your Mental Health. Read this if you have depression, anxiety, SAD or Low Mood, or feel sluggish and tired all the time.

Vitamin B12 is one of the strongest nutritional factors influencing mental health.

Looking at the nervous system alone, vitamin B12 works in a diverse number of areas.

assists in normal nerve growth and development

improves communication between nerve cells

promotes stable adrenal function

provides emotional and mental energy

helps with the ability to concentrate

bolsters memory function

has calming effects to balance moods

How exactly does B12 Work?

The first is through a process called myelination. All the cells in the nervous system are wrapped in an insulating coating called a myelin sheath. This protective layer, made up of protein and fatty substrates, helps electrical signals to transmit quickly and efficiently between nerve cells.

Normally, vitamin B12 helps to build and maintain these myelin sheaths, keeping conversations between cells going and the nervous system running strong. However, when there is a lack of vitamin B12 in the tissues, as seen with dietary vitamin B12 deficiency and other conditions, the myelin coating on cranial, spinal and peripheral nerves is compromised. Without this shielding, nerve signaling becomes slow and sporadic, leading to a host of neurological symptoms from trouble walking to changes in cognitive function and mood.

B12 also helps with the production of neurotransmitters, those tiny chemical messengers that communicate emotional information throughout the brain and body. It does this in collaboration with a compound called SAMe (or S-Adenosylmethionine in fancy scientific terms), which is naturally found throughout the body as well.

Together, B12 and SAMe (along with other helper vitamins like B6 and folate) regulate the synthesis and breakdown of several important mood-controlling chemicals such as serotonin, melatonin and dopamine. Without enough B12, this elaborate production system falters and neurotransmitters can no longer be released at adequate rates. As levels of neurotransmitters plummet, symptoms of mental health disorders, like depression, can arise.

Vitamin B12 and Depression

As many as 30% of patients that are hospitalized for depression are deficient in vitamin B12.(1) Many practitioners assume that this number is actually much higher, seeing as B12 testing is not yet a standard procedure when it comes to treating psychiatric patients.

Researchers found that higher vitamin B12 levels were correlated with better long-term psychological functioning. Furthermore, they discovered that individuals whose moods improved the most over the course of the study had the highest vitamin B12 levels in the blood, while those whose depression did not change had the lowest levels.(2)

Another group of researchers looked at the B12 levels in almost three hundred elderly people with depressive symptoms, and compared them to those of people who were not depressed. They found that people with B12 deficiency were far more likely to be depressed.(3)

Since that time it has been shown that elderly men and women with vitamin B12 deficiency are 70% more likely to experience depression than those with normal B12 status.(4). This is very important as we know that our ability to absorb B12 decreases as we age, in turn increasing rates of B12 deficiency.

Sources of Vitamin B12

The primary food sources of B12 are animal based and include fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk and other dairy products.

Specifically, the top 5 foods most concentrated in B12 are:

1.Grass-fed Beef

2. Organ Meats (like beef liver)

3. Wild-caught Fish (such as salmon, trout, mackerel)

4. Shellfish (clams, mussels, crab)Grass-fed Beef

5. Pastured Eggs

If B12 has been depleted for some time, and depression occurs supplementing is necessary. Generally, vitamin B12 is best assimilated when taken as part of a full spectrum B-Complex that contains all of the other vitamins in the B group (such as B1, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, folate etc.).

Since vitamin B12 is naturally found only in animal foods, vegetarians are considered an at-risk group for vitamin B12 deficiency.

Vegetarian foods high in vitamin B12 include fortified cereals, fortified fruit juices, fortified tofu, yogurt, milk, cheese, eggs, vitamin water, and whey powder.

Vegan Sources of b12 include:

#1. Tempeh

#2. Seaweed

3. Crimini Mushrooms

#4. Beer

5. Yeast Extract Spread

If you are prone to SAD or low mood or depression, you can buy a spray, or drops, liquid vitamin b12. You will notice the effects on mood and energy levels the day you begin to take it.

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