A few weeks ago we started a series on the The Unspoken Solution for Anxiety here on the blog. This collection of articles looks at the many ways in which nutrition, digestive health and psychological well-being are related. There is an abundance of fascinating scientific literature out there connecting food and mental health, but unfortunately a lot of this information has never made it to the mainstream. Therefore our series is being built as a way to share some of our own knowledge on these important topics with you. This week, I want to offer up an article that I recently wrote discussing the link between vitamin B12 and mental health. While this article focuses mainly on depression, there are a lot of overlaps in the pathophysiology of anxiety and depression that make it highly relevant to our series. Let's take a look!
Vitamin B12 is well known for its physical health benefits. Nicknamed the "energy vitamin" it is responsible for promoting immune system function, red blood cell formation, healthy circulation, and proper digestion. It also helps to maintain clear skin, long locks and strong nails. So what does this have to do with mental health? It turns out that vitamin B12 is absolutely essential for maintaining healthy brain function and promoting positive moods.
Interestingly B12 happens to be the largest and most complex of all the vitamins. This impressive nutrient is responsible for a wide range of roles in the brain and nervous system. These include:
- assisting in normal nerve growth and development
- improving communication between nerve cells
- promoting stable adrenal function
- providing emotional and mental energy
- helping with the ability to concentrate
- bolstering memory function
- offering calming effects to balance moods
As you can imagine by peering at this lengthy list of jobs, your nervous system relies on having adequate B12 to function correctly. This also means that conversely, a lack of B12 can cause major problems with anxiety and mood.