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Question:
I've heard that having low B-12 or B-6 can cause depression. Is that true?

Answer:
Yes, being deficient in vitamin B-12 or B-6 can cause depression. Correcting a deficiency in one of these vitamins may help improve symptoms of depression, and some B vitamins may increase the effectiveness certain antidepressant medications, such as SSRI's. For more about B vitamins and depression, see the "What It Does" section of the B Vitamins Supplements Review >>

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I take fluoxetine (Prozac), a SSRI drug to treat depression. Are there supplements I should avoid, or be taking, due to this drug? >>

Which supplements help with depression and anxiety? >>



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James11315   October 2, 2016
B vitamin deficiencies can cause Pellagra (B3) and Beri Beri (B1). Both have significant psychological effects.

In the 17th century British Navy, the combination of Pellagra, Beri Beri, and Scurvy (vit C) caused 80% casualty rates on long sea voyages. These nutritional diseases continued in various armed forces. Dr. Kanehiro Takaki conducted the famous ship diet experiment that proved Beri Beri could be prevented with a better diet, but Japanese Army doctors rejected the concept, leading to dramatic Beri Beri casualties in the Russo- Japanese War.

The pellagra epidemic in the US produced at least 250,000 cases and caused 7,000 deaths a year for several decades in 15 southern states in early 1900s. Discovery of B3 resulted in thousands being discharged from mental hospitals.

These diseases still exist in at-risk populations like POWs, alcoholics, and some elderly. Although controversial, folks attempting a vegetarian diet without studying how to balance their diet may also be at risk.

In a recent study by one US armed service, over 20% of women and 5-6% of men arrived iron anemic, mostly due to their diets.

This CL Answer initially posted on 10/1/2016. Last updated 7/26/2017.

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