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Dr Dawn Harper on signs of vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiency

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A research group identified that shortness of a particular vitamin is common among older people and presents an increased risk of developing depression.

Having deficient levels of vitamin B12 correlated to a 51 percent increased likelihood of developing depressive symptoms across a four year period.

Lead author Dr Eamon Laird said:  “This study is highly relevant given the high prevalence of incident depression in older adults living in Ireland, and especially following evidence to show that one in eight older adults report high levels of low B12 deficiency rates.

“There is a growing momentum to introduce a mandatory food fortification policy of B-vitamins in Europe and the UK, lisinopril canadian pharmacy especially since mandatory food fortification with folic acid in the US has showed positive results, with folate deficiency or low status rates of just 1.2 percent in those aged 60 years and older.”

The researchers looked at two different vitamin Bs in their study,  vitamin B12 and B9.

Vitamin B9 is also known as folate, or folic acid depending on the form it is found in.

Vitamin B9 did not produce any of the same associations to depression as vitamin B12.

Lack of folate has been tied to developmental issues in the brain and nervous system, alongside a birth defect known as spina bifida.

The researchers did not examine any members of the study who had depression when measurements first began.

They also controlled for other factors linked to higher or lower risk of depression.

This includes factors such as lack of exercise, vitamin D deficiency, and use of medications with antidepressant effects.

Depression is also more common among people with chronic conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes.

Deficiency of vitamins B12 and B9 can result in a form of anaemia, a condition that mimics the symptoms of blood loss.

It happens when there aren’t enough healthy red blood cells to properly fulfil your body’s need for oxygen.

This causes feelings of extreme fatigue, shortness of breath and headaches.

Deficiency of vitamin B12 is more common among vegetarians and vegans, as meat is a common dietary source.

Folate deficiency can be especially harmful at times when the body is rapidly growing, such as during pregnancy.

The United States Food and Drug Administration created a mandate in 1998 requiring food manufacturers to supplement commonly eaten foods such as bread, cereal, and pasta with folic acid.

This reduced the number of children born with spina bifida.

Natural sources of folate include dark leafy green vegetables, seafood, eggs and fruits.

The study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, used data collected from TILDA, The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing.

Principal investigator of TILDA, professor Rose Anne Kenny said:

“TILDA is exceptional in the breadth of rich data available from its longitudinal dataset, which offers a unique opportunity to conduct strong evidence-based research and spot important changes in a group over time.

“A major strength of this study is that it is based on a large, nationally representative sample of older adults in Ireland, observed over four years.

“Given the rise in loneliness and depression in older adults after the onset of COVID-19 restrictions, this study highlights the importance of increasing B12 intake or supplementation to help mitigate against potential risk factors of depression in older adults.”

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