Don't delay your care at Mayo Clinic
Brain tumor, breast cancer, colon cancer, congenital heart disease, heart arrhythmia. See more conditions.
Mayo Clinic offers appointments in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota and at Mayo Clinic Health System locations.
Subscribe to Housecall
Our general interest e-newsletter keeps you up to date on a wide variety of health topics.
Vitamin B-12 and other B vitamins play a role in producing brain chemicals that affect mood and other brain functions. Low levels of B-12 and other B vitamins such as vitamin B-6 and folate may be linked to depression.
Low levels of a vitamin can result from eating a poor diet or not being able to absorb the vitamins you consume. Older adults, vegetarians and people with digestive disorders such as celiac disease or Crohn's disease may have trouble getting enough B-12. Sometimes a vitamin B-12 deficiency occurs for unknown reasons. Your doctor may order a blood test to check levels of B-12 or other vitamins if a deficiency is suspected.
If you have a vitamin B-12 deficiency, taking a daily supplement that includes vitamin B-12 may help your body get the nutrients it needs. But study results have been mixed and questionable on whether vitamin B-12 supplements can help reduce the risk of depression. Because B-12 and other vitamin supplements can interact with some medications, especially in high doses, talk to your doctor before you take a vitamin supplement.
The best way to make sure you're getting enough B-12 and other vitamins is to eat a healthy diet that includes sources of essential nutrients. Vitamin B-12 is plentiful in animal products such as fish, lean meat, poultry, eggs, and low-fat and fat-free milk. Fortified breakfast cereals also are a good source of B-12 and other B vitamins.
Keep in mind, the role of B vitamins in depression isn't clear and more research is needed. And no supplement can replace proven depression treatments such as antidepressants and psychological counseling.
Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D.
Mayo Clinic does not endorse companies or products. Advertising revenue supports our not-for-profit mission.
Check out these best-sellers and special offers on books and newsletters from Mayo Clinic.
Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization and proceeds from Web advertising help support our mission. Mayo Clinic does not endorse any of the third party products and services advertised.
A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.org," "Mayo Clinic Healthy Living," and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.