B Vitamins and Depression

There is definitely a connection between B vitamins and depression. The most notable connections are made when looking at the symptoms of vitamin b deficiencies, meaning the symptoms that can arise if you are not getting enough of a particular B vitamin.

B vitamins are a group of vitamins all categorized under “B Vitamins”. There are 8 different B vitamins in the group and some are more commonly known by their letter/number combo name, for example vitamin B12, while some are more commonly known by a single word name, for example niacin (also known as Vitamin B3). The complete list of vitamins in the Vitamin B family are:

  • Vitamin B1 - Thiamine
  • Vitamin B2 - Riboflavin
  • Vitamin B3 - Niacin
  • Vitamin B5 - Pantothenic Acid
  • Vitamin B6 - Pyridoxine
  • Vitamin B7 - Biotin
  • Vitamin B9 - Folic Acid
  • Vitamin B12

Health Benefits of B Vitamins:

So first let’s look at what B vitamins do for us, and then we can explore how B vitamins and depression are related.

B vitamins can support and increase our metabolism, and are important for healthy skin, hair and even muscle tone. They aid in cell growth and division, including red blood cells, which can help prevent anemia. Consuming them from food sources has been shown to reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer. B vitamins also play a significant role in enhancing proper function of our nervous and immune systems.

What is the connection between B vitamins and depression?

Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, produces serotonin. If you’re familiar with depression or antidepressants, you are probably familiar with a chemical called serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical manufactured in our brains and has several purposes in our bodies. 1 theory (and the basis for most antidepressants) is that serotonin influences a variety of psychological functions, and that an imbalance of serotonin may lead to depression.

A common and sometimes debilitating symptom of depression can be fatigue, or lack of energy. B vitamins play an important role in the amount of energy we have. Its not that B vitamins create the energy, but B vitamins do help us use the energy from the foods we eat.

Symptoms of Vitamin B deficiency can include fatigue, anxiety, irritability, and depression. The connection between B vitamins and depression are outlined here on this chart , along with other vitamins that may play a role in depression.