The Vitamin Experiment: Depression and Anxiety

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Living with Anxiety and Depression is nothing more than one giant experiment. Does this medication work? Would exercise ease my anxiety? If I have a little bit of “me time” would I function better as a mother? I wish I could do the work for you and tell you the exact thing to do to feel better. However, everybody has a different body chemistry. Your depression may be caused by a zinc deficiency. Where as mine could be a vitamin deficiency.

What I CAN do is give you ideas for experiments. Possible cures or ideas to ease the burden mental health places on us. I can tell you the possible reasons for your depression and anxiety. Then you can act on my advice and experiment with your own chemistry.

We all know we have a problem. Our bodies are telling us something is wrong with depression and anxiety. All we need to know is what that problem is. One possible answer is in fact a vitamin deficiency. Your body is screaming at you trying to tell you that it’s starving.

Two of the most common vitamin deficiencies that cause depression and anxiety is vitamin D and B.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is the sun vitamin. Sun is one of the best sources of vitamin D. However, some of us are not getting the right amount of sun our bodies need when we’re cooped up inside buildings all day. This can also translate into not getting enough vitamin D each day.

What does vitamin D do? Vitamin D absorbs calcium and together they build stronger bones. It also blocks the parathyroid hormone from being released. This is a hormone that reabsorbs bone tissue and can make bones thin and brittle. Vitamin D also aid in muscle function and immune function. There have been studies that show it can reduce breast, colon, and prostate cancer. Also, there have been several studies that show there is a correlation between depression and vitamin D deficiency.

There is a type of depression known as seasonal depression or the winter blues. When we are stuck inside our houses due to the cold and even the sun does not shine as much in the winter time since it gets dark so early and it is often cloudy. Citizens of Alaska know this concept very well. In fact, many use sun lamps that cause your skin to produce vitamin D. Let’s call it how it is, a fake sun. These lamps do come with risks so please read about them carefully.

Vitamin D can also come in supplements. My sister in law referred me to Vitamin D supplements because they helped her anxiety. I decided to give that a try for a couple of weeks as well as vitamin B complex.

Vitamin B’s

When I say Vitamin B I am talking about eight different vitamins. Here is all eight and what they can do for our body.

  • B1-Thiamine: Thiamine plays an essential role in metabolism by helping convert nutrients into energy.
  • B2-riboflavin: Riboflavin helps convert food into energy and also acts as an antioxidant.
  • B3-niacin: Niacin plays a role in cellular signaling, metabolism and DNA production and repair.
  • B5-pantothenic acid: Like other B vitamins, pantothenic acid helps your body obtain energy from food and is also involved in hormone and cholesterol production.
  • B6-pyridoxine: Pyridoxine is involved in amino acid metabolism, red blood cell production and the creation of neurotransmitters.
  • B7-biotin: Biotin is essential for carbohydrate and fat metabolism and regulates gene expression.
  • B9-folate: Folate is needed for cell growth, amino acid metabolism, the formation of red and white blood cells and proper cell division.
  • B12-cobalamin: Perhaps the most well-known of all the B vitamins, B12 is vital for neurological function, DNA production and red blood cell development.

When you take a B vitamin complex, you are taking a vitamin with all eight B vitamins. These B vitamins have been linked to depression because they help produce brain chemicals. Since we all know depression is a chemical imbalance in your brain then we can see how B vitamins play a role in that imbalance.

Best Food Sources for Vitamin D and B

Vitamin D

Below is a table from Nation Institutes of Health office of dietary supplements which lists the best sources of vitamin D.

* IUs = International Units.
** DV = Daily Value. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) developed DVs to help consumers compare the nutrient contents of products within the context of a total diet. The DV for vitamin D used for the values in Table 3 is 400 IU for adults and children age 4 years and older [15]. This DV, however, is changing to 20 mcg as the updated Nutrition and Supplement Facts labels are implemented [16]. The updated labels and DVs must appear on food products and dietary supplements beginning in January 2020, but they can be used now [17]. FDA does not currently require food labels to list vitamin D content unless a food has been fortified with this nutrient, but it requires vitamin D content to be listed on the updated labels. Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient, but foods providing lower percentages of the DV also contribute to a healthful diet.

Vitamin B

  • B1 thiamine: The richest food sources include pork, sunflower seeds and wheat germ.
  • B2 riboflavin: Foods highest in riboflavin include organ meats, beef and mushrooms.
  • B3 niacin: Food sources include chicken, tuna and lentils.
  • B5 pantothenic acid: Liver, fish, yogurt and avocado are all good sources.
  • B6 pyridoxine: Foods highest in this vitamin include chickpeas, salmon and potatoes.
  • B7 biotin: Yeast, eggs, salmon, cheese and liver are among the best food sources of biotin.
  • B9 folate: It can be found in foods like leafy greens, liver and beans or in supplements as folic acid.
  • B12 cobalamin: B12 is found naturally in animal sources like meats, eggs, seafood and dairy.

My Experiment                     

Since finding relief from depression and anxiety is one big experiment, I decided to experiment on myself. I started by taking one tablet of a B vitamin complex.

The picture shows the brand and supplement facts on the B vitamin I chose. The Vitamin D supplement is the same brand and I started taking 300 mcg of vitamin D.

My Results

After taking these supplements for three weeks I have only noticed one thing and it’s that I definitely have more energy. Since having more energy I’ve been able to handle my children and the kids that I babysit, I’ve been more productive, and I feel better about myself and my day. 

My anxiety still gets the better of me on some days. However, my depression is down because of the energy I have which allows me to cope when it’s not a double whammy. These are only the results after three weeks and many recommend waiting over a month before you can really evaluate a supplement or drug.

My Recommendation

Try it out! Find supplements that have good ratings and start taking the recommended amount for a month. Don’t give up if you don’t see dramatic results. Your body was starving so give it some time to recover and replenish itself. Even if you do not have a deficiency it’s always good to take vitamins.

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Hi, I'm Ariel! Yes, I was named after The Little Mermaid. Growing up with that name was not an enjoyable experience "Sing for me Ariel!" "Where's flounder!". I have heard it all. Secretly, my favorite princess is Belle. I'm a mother of two young boys. The oldest is three and the youngest is 1. The stresses of being a mother have added to my depression and anxiety. Depression and anxiety have been my constant companions since I was a teenager. I don't know when it started because I didn't even know what depression and anxiety was until I attempted suicide when I was 16. Once I knew what was wrong with me and that life wasn't going to be like this forever, I decided to fight. Thank you,                                                     Ariel Butler                                                       www.MoodyMamas.org

8 Comments

  • Chelsea

    Such a helpful post. I noticed that I lack so much energy in the winter months, and a regimen of iron and b supplements help for that. I may give them a try for anxiety as well.

  • Yolanda

    This is a really great resource, especially when we have winter around the corner and people can get ‘the blues’. For more serious depression I think it’s good for people to see their family doctors to discuss more solutions. Depression is hard, confusing and many people think they can tackle on their own. This could be true for seasonal depression but not more severe depression. Thanks for all this info. It’s really helpful.

  • Jane

    A great post. I have always felt and do believe that these conditions can be relieved by the right diet and lifestyle. GThis articles reinforce my belief. Thank you for sharing this knowledge. There has to be a diet connection as to why so many people are suffering from these conditions in our modern times. Times when many live on soda sugar and processed food. Foods that are toxic and lack nutrients are causing these conditions, plus a world full of toxins. I have written on this issue, that you can check here https://thrivewithjanie.com/food-that-improves-depression-and-mental-health/
    keep educating people. Great work.

  • Beth

    This is so interesting, I have a friend who just found out that she has a Vitamin D deficiency. She also suffers from anxiety. I’m going to tell her about this.

  • shan

    What a comprehensive post on these things – just in time for the happiest AND most depressing time of the year – winter. Thanks for this. I pinned for later to refer to as well!

  • Stephanie

    This was definitely an interesting read for me. As someone who has experienced severe depression and anxiety for years, I’ve never really considered how vitamins may affect my demeanor. I’ll have to see what else may help me in the long run after experimenting with what you’ve suggested.

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