Stressful situations arise in everyone’s lives from time to time. Stress from these uncomfortable experiences often gives rise to mood changes, and it can lead to chronic anxiety, depression, and even severe panic attacks.
But is stress the only or the main cause for these mood shifts? New studies point out that may not be not the case.
Anxiety and other mood disturbances can be caused on a physiological level from lacking just one specific nutrient, and it’s one that millions of people are at risk for becoming deficient in due to modern dietary trends. Do you get enough of it in your diet?
Why We Experience Mood Issues
It has been estimated that about 1 in 10 American adults and 1 in 7 adolescents experience a mood disorder every year, and frightening panic attacks are being increasingly reported by everyone from actors and celebrities to everyday kids and adults.
Each year over 18% of the American population will live with anxiety, and 7% will have depression. An estimated 4.7% of adults will have a panic attack disorder in their lifetime.
All three are making it harder for people to lead day-to-day lives.
In the medical community, there is currently no agreed upon theory about the one cause of mood disorders, and a combination of all three genetic, psychological and physiological causes is suggested. There is, however, the most recognized theory that all of them stem from imbalances in the brain.
In the last decade, a new theory has also emerged that linked mood disorders, nutritional and chemical imbalances stem from our toxic food and environment combined with chemical-laden processed food.
The good news is that, aside from work with a highly quality naturopathic or functional doctor, there is one vitamin you can take that won’t cause harm, and may be able to heal you from any and all of these disorders.
Studies Link Vitamin B12 Deficiency to Mood Disorders
Vitamin B12 is one of the essential vitamins that the body needs to function, and its deficiency has been associated with problems in the digestive tract, blood, nervous system, and now with the mood. Lack of vitamin B12 has been linked to psychiatric symptoms including:
Its symptoms include feeling agitated, confused, irritable, unable to concentrate, insomniac, negative, disoriented, and it can even cause memory problems.
Reports of B12 deficiency and mood disorders in middle-aged and elderly people have been the most common. But a 2012 study found this association to be true for much younger patients as well.
A 16-year-old with no negative medical history or family history, and no known stressors, was experiencing a mood disorder with symptoms of apathy, regression, irritability, and an urge to constantly cry. He was also tested for B12 deficiency. After taking 500 mcg of B12 every day for three months, his vitamin B12 levels normalized while all of the psychiatric symptoms disappeared.
While the study had it limitations, it concluded that it “may underline the observation that mood disorders with psychotic features…may be rare manifestation of vitamin B12 and/or folate deficiency in children and adolescents.”
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But unlike what the study claimed, B12 deficiency is not rare.
Data from the Tufts University Framingham Offspring Study has found that as many as 40% of adults aged 26-83 have lower levels of B12 (even though) in the normal range, and that is low enough for neurological symptoms to emerge.
“B12 deficiency may be more widespread than thought” – announced a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) article.
The good news is that correcting this deficiency through the right diet and/or supplements holds great promise for those anyone willing to try it — without the potentially harsh side effects of drug-based therapies.
How To Know If You are Vitamin B12 Deficient
To know if you are one of the 40% of adults who lack vitamin B12, besides taking a blood test, you can look for the following symptoms to discuss with your health professional:
-Lack of energy even when getting at least 8 hours of sleep
Feeling pins and needles in hands and feet
-Experiencing problems remembering things
-Your skin looks pale.
-Becoming highly emotional easily
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Getting Enough Vitamin B12 in Your Diet
Vitamin B12 comes mainly from meat products: meat and poultry, eggs, fish, and dairy products. This makes it harder for vegetarian and vegans to receive this vitamin.
There is currently a debate about whether vitamin B12 even exists in the most-needed form in vegetable sources. While some recommend cranberries as a B12 source, others say that plant-based B12 is only a mimicking vitamin and not the same thing. In which case, taking a supplement is vital.
B12 supplements may be important not just for vegetarians and vegans. The Tufts University found that eating more meat often does nothing for vitamin B12. Even though meat is the main source of vitamin B12, it is often not getting absorbed in the body.
Best B12 Vitamins to Use as a Supplement
According to Dr. Edward Group, there are four types of B12 supplements.
Methylcobalamin or the most active B12 in the body, protects the cardiovascular or nervous systems.
Cyanocobalamin is a synthetic version of the vitamin.
Hydroxocobalamin is created by bacteria, and is most often found if food sources of B12. It converts to methylcobalamin in the body.
Adenosylcobalamin is the least stable of all four forms.
Because vitamin B12 is often not absorbed from food sources, when taking the supplement, it is best to choose the most absorbable kind, which is methylcobalamin.
One natural, non-GMO B12 supplement (that also happens to be vegan and glyphosate free) is affordably sold by MegaFoods. If you are interested in a liquid kind instead, there is also vegan methylcobalamin B12 by the Garden of Life.
Other Ways to Improve Your Mood
While working on the physiological causes of mood disorders, it is also important to not forget the emotional and mental healing that can be done. Getting regular exercise, meditating, and participating in cognitive-behavioral therapy and deep-breathing exercises and all good ways to improve your mood.
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