Vegetarian & Depressed? You Might Be Low On B12
I was angry at the world. I lashed out at those I loved for no reason at all. And then I felt terrible about my behavior. So terrible I didn’t want to face anyone. I complained — about everything. I couldn’t concentrate on a highly detailed task for very long. My memory was shot. And my stress level was through the roof.
What was happening to me?!
In hindsight, I know I was depressed. But at the time, I felt like a mental fog had slowly descended upon my life. My mind was playing tricks on me, turning me into a person I had never been before.
Since there hadn’t been any major life changes recently and no obvious reason for this slow mental decline I was experiencing, I figured it was just the new me. Apparently I was a bitter, angry person now.
But then, I went to the doctor for my annual physical. While I was there, I mentioned my new mental state. She started poke around into my lifestyle.
“Have you experienced any major life changes recently?”
“Has your diet changed?”
“No. I’m a vegetarian, but I made that switch about two years ago.”
What my doctor suspected — and what turned out to be correct — was that I was suffering from a vitamin deficiency.
Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products — like meat, dairy, eggs and seafood. All those vitamin-rich foods were no longer part of my diet. And since the liver can store vitamin B12 for up to five years, my body had just recently become depleted.
Because I would probably never be able to get enough vitamin B12 from my diet, my doctor suggested vitamin supplements. I had two options; daily pills or less frequent vitamin injections. For me, it was a no-brainer: vitamin B12 injections were the way to go.
There has been plenty of debate in the medical community about which method of supplementation is best. But I didn’t really care if the pills would do the trick. I wasn’t interested. As I had previously learned on countless occasions, I’m forgetful (and I was even before the vitamin deficiency started wreaking havoc on my brain). A quick poke one or two times a week was much better than trying to remember one or two pills per day.
Why is vitamin B12 so important?
I don’t like being ignorant. When I found out there was such a powerful, personality-altering chemical reaction taking place inside my body, I had to find out all there was to know about this condition.
Here’s what I learned:
Vitamin B12 is actually a pretty big deal in the world of nutrients. If you were to attend a party with all the nutrients, vitamin B12 is the one everyone wants to be friends with. He’s powerful, influential, and you really, really don’t want to get on his bad side.
Vitamin B12 is responsible for the production and maintenance of DNA, red blood cells, and the nervous system. Obviously, a shortage can be pretty devastating. If left untreated, a vitamin B12 deficiency can cause severe depression, paranoia, delusions, loss of memory, and much more.
So apparently my symptoms weren’t nearly as bad as they could have been, and I was lucky to have received my diagnosis in time to prevent anything worse.
When it comes to natural medicine, stick up for your beliefs.
I’m so glad my doctor quickly diagnosed the real source of my depression. I’ve heard countless stories about patients who underwent potentially dangerous, chemically-laden treatment plans that did nothing to address the real issue at hand.
Granted, there are still a lot of unanswered questions when it comes to depression and vitamin B12. Dr. Hall-Flavin at Mayo Clinic says, “The role of B vitamins in depression isn’t clear.” But a growing body of research suggests that taking vitamin B12 can alleviate depression.
The real point is this: holistic and natural treatment alternatives should not be discounted. Just because there isn’t a perfectly clear understanding of why a treatment works doesn’t mean it shouldn't be used in the cases where it's working.
When I told my doctor about my depression, she could have easily handed over the trendiest anti-depression medication without diving deeper into the root cause. Practices like this occur all the time.
If you are a believer in natural medicine, stick up for your beliefs. Don’t cave to the pressure to use unnecessary chemicals and drugs if you don’t have to.
Vitamin B12 injections changed my life. Now, more than ever before, I am a firm believer in the power of a healthy diet and lifestyle.