Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Facing mood disorders? You may be low on Vitamin B12


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Vitamin B12 plays a key role in producing brain chemicals that affect mood and other brain functions, said doctors on Saturday.
Vitamin B12 (also known as cobalamin) plays a crucial role in the formation of red blood cells, cell metabolism, nerve function, and the production of DNA.
Some common symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency include strange sensations, numbness, or tingling in the hands, legs, or feet, difficulty walking (staggering, balance problems), anaemia, difficulty thinking and reasoning (cognitive difficulties), memory loss, weakness, or fatigue.
“Vitamin B12 and other B vitamins play a crucial role in producing brain chemicals that affect mood and other brain functions. Low levels of B12, as well as other B vitamins like vitamin B6 and folate, may be linked to depression,” Dr Anshu Rohtagi, Senior Consultant, Department of Neurology, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, told IANS.
“The deficiencies can result from poor diet or difficulties in absorbing the vitamins consumed. So, maintaining adequate B12 level is essential for overall well-being, including mood regulation,” she added.
Vitamin B12 is majorly found in poultry, meat, fish, and dairy products. It is available as an oral supplement, as injections, or nasal spray.
People who consume a vegetarian or vegan diet may be more prone to deficiency as plant foods do not contain vitamin B12. The elderly and people with digestive tract conditions that affect the absorption of nutrients also are susceptible to vitamin B12 deficiency.
“Vitamin B12 plays a crucial role in producing brain chemicals like serotonin, which helps regulate mood. When B12 levels dip, these chemicals can become imbalanced, potentially leading to symptoms like mood swings, irritability, and even depression,” Dr Guruprasad Hosurkar, Additional Director – Neurology, Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, Bengaluru, told IANS.
Importantly, the doctor explained that the “connection is not gender-specific. Both men and women can experience mood changes due to B12 deficiency”.
While research is ongoing, studies suggest a link between low B12 and depression, with some showing improvement in mood with B12 supplementation.
However, it’s important to note that mood swings can have many causes, and a doctor should be consulted to rule out other factors and determine if a B12 deficiency is present, Dr Guruprasad said.
“Vitamin B12 deficiency causes several neurological symptoms such as tingling, numbness & burning of feet, imbalance, memory impairment, mood disorders, psychosis, seizures, and Parkinsonism,” explained Dr Sudhir Kumar, from Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, Hyderabad in a post on social media platform X.
“In a patient presenting with neurological or psychiatric symptoms, suspect vitamin B12 deficiency as a cause (especially if there is no obvious cause identified). Early diagnosis and prompt initiation of treatment rapidly improves patient’s symptoms,” he added.
The doctors also stressed the need to maintain a healthy lifestyle and advised key behaviours such as managing high blood pressure, and blood sugar, quitting smoking, and alcohol, staying physically active, getting adequate sleep, and managing stress. (IANS)


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