Depression used to be a condition that was hardly understood and never talked about. Even today, depression can be an uncomfortable topic to discuss.
But we need to discuss it. In 2015, more than 16.1 million U.S. adults suffered from some type of depressive episode.
There are many types of depression that range from mild to severe. Some experience depression on a seasonal basis while others feel depressed as a result of too many failures in life.
In some cases, depression can be caused by vitamin deficiency. While no two depression cases are alike, sometimes mild depression can be caused by not getting enough of a particular vitamin or mineral.
Keep reading to learn more about vitamin deficiencies and how they might be causing depression.
Vitamin D is a critical vitamin that helps our bodies absorb calcium. When our bodies don't get enough vitamin D, it can lead to brittle bones that are prone to breaking especially in older individuals.
Vitamin D is found in few foods naturally. In most cases, we get vitamin D when the sun's ultraviolet rays hit our skin and promote the synthesis of vitamin D in our skin.
The lack of sun in the winter and, therefore, lower vitamin D production can actually lead to depression in some individuals. It's commonly referred to as seasonal depression.
Those who work desk jobs can also suffer from vitamin D deficiency and depression.
To reverse a D vitamin deficiency, you can take a supplement. The NIH recommends 600 IUs for adults. You can also invest in a vitamin D lamp to place in your home or at your desk.
Vitamin B, especially B-12, plays a critical role in producing chemicals in the brain that affect your mood and other brain functions. A lack of B vitamins might play a role in depression.
People who don't eat a varied and balanced diet tend to have vitamin B deficiency. Those who are older, are vegetarian or vegan, or have digestive disorders are also likely candidates for low B-12 levels.
Vitamin B deficiency is easily reversible as many foods contain the vitamin. You can find plenty of B-12 in milk, fish, meats, and eggs.
If you have a restricted diet, discuss with your doctor before taking a B-12 supplement. Those supplements can react poorly with other medications.
Omega-3 fatty acids do amazing things to our bodies. They have anti-inflammatory properties, improve brain function, and improve our insulin sensitivity.
In recent years, research has been conducted to understand the relationship between omega-3s and depression.
Studies have shown that omega-3s and depression have an inverse relationship. The fewer fatty acids we consume, the more likely it is we'll develop depression and vice versa.
However, we should note that there are other factors in addition to omega-3 deficiency that can contribute to depression.
If you're deficient in omega-3s, try adding more oily fish, walnuts, and chia seeds to your diet. All of these foods are rich in good fats, including omega-3s.
Not every vitamin deficiency will cause depression and not all cases of depression are caused by a deficiency. Each individual's case is unique and dependent on many factors including brain chemistry, environment, predisposition, and diet to name a few.
You can determine if you have a vitamin deficiency by speaking to a functional medicine or nutrition specialist. There are plenty of ways to naturally heal your body and beat depression.
If you have questions about vitamin deficiencies or want to schedule an appointment with a nutritionist, get in touch today.