Sangle, P., Sandhu, O., Aftab, Z., Anthony, A. T., & Khan, S. (2020). Vitamin B12 Supplementation: Preventing Onset and Improving Prognosis of Depression. Cureus, 12(10), e11169. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.11169
Young, L. M., Pipingas, A., White, D. J., Gauci, S., & Scholey, A. (2019). A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of B Vitamin Supplementation on Depressive Symptoms, Anxiety, and Stress: Effects on Healthy and 'At-Risk' Individuals. Nutrients, 11(9), 2232. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11092232
B vitamins have an important role in changing carbohydrates, protein and fat to energy.
There are eight B vitamins:
- B1 (thiamine)
- B2 (riboflavin)
- B3 (niacin)
- B5 (pantothenic acid)
- B6 (pyridoxine)
- B7 (biotin)
- B9 (folate (folic acid))
- B12 (cobalamin)
Three of the key B vitamins include Folate, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12.
Vitamin B9 (Folate) - Folic Acid
Not having enough folate is linked to birth defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly. Folate is required to produce healthy red blood cells and is critical during periods of rapid growth, such as pregnancy and fetal development. Folate is a water-soluble vitamin and found in many foods. It is added to some foods and also can be brought as a supplement. The supplement form is better absorbed by the body than when eaten through food - 85% versus 50%, respectively.
Recommended dietary allowance for folate is listed as micrograms (mcg) of dietary folate equivalents (DFE). Adults over 19 years of age should aim for 400 mcg DFE. Pregnant and lactating women require 600 mcg DFE and 500 mcg DFE respectively. Women who are, or planning to become pregnant should take a daily supplement at least one month before, and three months after becoming pregnant. Alcohol reduces absorption of folate so people who consume alcohol should consume at least 600 mcg of DFE daily.
Vegetarians who do not consume dairy products, and vegans who require B12 supplements, may also be deficient in folate.
Good food sources of folate can be found in dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, romaine lettuce, asparagus, brussels sprouts, broccoli), beans, peanuts, sunflower seeds, fresh fruit, wholegrains, liver, seafood, eggs and fortified foods and supplements.
Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin found in many foods. This vitamin is important for normal brain function and keeping the nervous and immune system healthy.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance for men between 14-50 years is 1.3 mg daily; 51+years, 1.7mg daily. For women, recommendations are 14-18 years of age 1.2 mg; 19-50 years, 1.3mg; age 51+ 1.5mg. For pregnancy and lactation, this amount increases to 1.9mg and 2.0mg respectively.
Food sources include beef liver, tuna, salmon, fortified cereals, chickpeas, poultry, dark green leafy vegetables, bananas, oranges, papayas.
A B6 deficiency is usually common with a deficiency in other B vitamins such as folate (B9) and vitamin B12 respectively.
Vitamin B12 is important for normal blood and nerve function. It also plays a part in making folate (Vitamin B9).
A deficiency in Vitamin B12 or Folate can result in a lack of energy, extreme tiredness, mouth ulcers, a sore and red tongue, muscle weakness, pernicious anaemia, disturbed vision, problems with memory, understanding and judgemnt.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance for adults 19 years and older is 2.4 micrograms (mcg) daily. For pregnancy and lactation, the amount increases to 2.6 mcg and 2.8 mcg respectively.
There is some evidence that supplements of 25 mcg per day or higher may increase the risk of bone fractures
B12 can be obtained through fish, shelfish, liver, red meat, eggs, poultry, dairy products, fortified breakfast cereals, and fortified soy or rice milk.
Vegetarians and Vegans are at risk of B12 deficiency because they do not eat meat and/or dairy. For this reason, fortified foods or a B12 supplement should be included in their diet.
Berry RJ, Li Z, Erickson D, Li S, Moore CA, Wang H, et al. Prevention of Neural-Tube Defects with Folic Acid in China. 1999. N Engl J Med; 341:1485-1490.
Viswanthan M, Treiman KA, Kish-Doto J, Middleton JC, Coker-Schwimmer EJl, Nicholson WK. Folic Acid Supplementation for the Prevention of Neural Tube Defects. 2017. JAMA;317(2):190-203. Doi:10/1001/jama/2016.1913