The B-complex vitamins include 11 vitamins essential to mental and emotional well-being. They cannot be stored in our bodies, so we depend entirely on our daily diet to supply them. B vitamins are destroyed by alcohol, refined sugars, nicotine, and caffeine-the very substances that most alcoholics consume almost to the exclusion of everything else. It’s a small wonder that deficiencies develop.

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Here's a rundown of recent findings about the relationship of B-complex vitamins to depression:

  • Vitamin B (thiamine): Deficiencies trigger depression and irritability and can cause neurological and cardiac disorders among alcoholics.
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): In 1982 an article published in the British Journal of Psychiatry reported that every one of 172 successive patients admitted to a British psychiatric hospital for treatment of depression was deficient in B2.
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin): Depletion causes anxiety, depression, apprehension, and fatigue.
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): Symptoms of deficiency are fatigue, chronic stress, and depression.
  • Vitamin B5 is needed for hormone formation and the uptake of amino acids and the brain chemical acetylcholine, which combine to prevent certain types of depression.
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): Deficiency can disrupt formation of neurotransmitters.
  • Vitamin B6 is a coenzyme needed for conversion of tryptophan to serotonin and phenylalanine and tyrosine to norepinephrine.
  • Vitamin B12: Deficiency will cause depression. Folic acid: Deficiency is a common cause of depression.

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B Vitamin Rich Foods

B-complex vitamins are part of the essential human chemical make up. Your body and brain need these chemicals to function properly. Supplementing or eating foods rich in B vitamins may help your mental or emotional well-being. Some foods high in B-vitamins include leafy greens (like spinach or kale), brown rice, legumes (like black beans), and salmon.