You may pop a vitamin pill (or several vitamin pills) daily to keep your body strong and healthy. But did you know that certain vitamins can also be good for your mental health--and that the lack of them may affect your mood? Vitamin B12 in particular has an important link to depression. While scientists are not sure whether the lack of B12 causes or exacerbates depression or whether depressed people eat poorly and don't get enough B12 in their diets, it's clear the two are linked. In fact, a Dutch study of almost 4,000 elderly people revealed that a deficiency of vitamin B12 was positively associated with depressive symptoms.

While most people get enough B12 in their diets, eating nutritiously may be a challenge when you're depressed. No matter your state of mind, it's important to get a balanced diet that includes B vitamins. You can find vitamin B12 in many animal products, such as fish, meat, poultry, eggs and milk. Liver and clams are especially rich in B12, and many breakfast cereals also are fortified with it. The good news is that cooking doesn't destroy the B12 found in foods, unless cooking time is extremely prolonged. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic recommend taking a daily B12 supplement (and other B vitamins) if you're over 50 or a vegetarian.


Source: "Vitamin B12, Folate, and Homocysteine in Depression: The Rotterdam Study." American Journal of Psychiatry 159:2099-2101, December 2002