I received so much mail last week about our article on sodas and depression that I decided to spend a little more time on the subject.* I am so very blessed that depression is not a battle for me; however, I know many who have a daily struggle, and I’ve seen what it does to people from an up close and personal view.
I’ve also done some studying and from the figures I can find, it seems that anywhere from 17 to 20 million people right here in the U.S. are fighting some type of depression. While I obviously, don’t hand out medical advise here on United, I do have some thoughts that wouldn’t hurt any of us, depressed or not.
First of all, the B-complex vitamins are essential to our mental health. If you will spend some time doing your own research or visiting with a good nutritionist (or you may remember from your college health and biology classes), you will find that these vitamins cannot be stored in your system and have to be replenished each day. Unfortunately, the Bs are destroyed by refined sugars, caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine so it is very difficult to keep these little guys on board without supplementation.
1. B1 (thiamine) This is your energy converter, and a lack can cause fatigue, depression, memory problems, and insomnia, just to name a few. The “bad” carbs will definitely eat up your body’s B1.
2. B3 (niacin) A lack of niacin can cause anxiety and what I call brain fog.
3. B5 (pantothenic acid) Pantothentic acid is what I remember by calling it the hormone vitamin. It is needed to prevent stress and depression.
4. B6 (pyridoxine) Pyridoxine is your amino acid vitamin. It is also needed to produce serotonin, melatonin and dopamine. If these are not familiar words to you, please research them to see how important they are to your mental health. A lack of B6 can cause the mental confusion often associated with depression.
5. B12- A lack of B12 can cause pernicious anemia. Pernicious anemia can cause confusion, dementia, mood swings, and irritability. It can also cause dizziness and heart palpitations along with many other symptoms.
By the time I was in my late 30s, years of coping with a lot of grief, years of eating very little (I’m the opposite of a nervous eater. When problems come, I don’t eat.), and years of pushing too hard had begun to take their toll on my health. It wasn’t that I ate a lot of “bad food,” I just did not eat enough of the good. I finally reached a point where my doctor warned me that I was just a point away from pernicious anemia….and here’s where I fault some in the medical world.
I received no counseling, no guidance at all. No doctor ever…even once…asked me about my diet. The problem of WHY was never adddressed.
We simply upped my B12 shots to daily shots, and nothing more was said. Because I had been a wellness coach in the 1970s, had taken the classes available at that time, and because I was a person who was able to find my own resources in the form of information and good nutritionists, I hit the ground running, unwilling to accept my diagnosis or to put my fate in any doctor’s hands.
Today, my diet is based on protein with very, very few bad carbs allowed on my plate. I also make sure I keep the alkaline veggies front and center beside the protein. I supplement with a sublingual B-complex vitamin, and I DO NOT suffer with pernicious anemia NOR do I take B12 shots on a regular basis any more.
I do have to supplement since I still am not a big eater and cannot get everything I need through food alone. Thankfully, I have good insurance and I am able to keep a check on all of my levels through blood work ordered by my doctor, which is always the place to start.
Obviously, depression can be caused by many, many things of which I have no knowledge; however, I can tell you that if I ever fall prey to the monster, my first course of action will be to make sure that I have done everything possible nutritionally before I pop that first pill…with the understanding that there are times when the pill simply cannot be avoided.
*Today I write from years of stored knowledge and do not have sources for you. This is a subject very easy research, and you should be able to find everything that I have listed here.