B12, Depression and Anxiety – Can it Save Your Brain?

B12 depression and anxiety really are related, too bad I didn’t always know that – back when I was in the military my eating habits were terrible.

We woke up at 5 a.m on the clock every day, did a bunch of useless formations, got shouted at, and then they read us the schedule for the day.

We later went and had “breakfast”, which really shouldn’t be considered breakfast in the first place.
The army made my depression worse, So I skipped breakfast.

Then we did a bunch of useless exercises and training, I got a bit better, ate lunch (which wasn’t nearly as bad), some more nonsense, and then we had dinner (which was just leftovers from lunch put with a few leftovers from breakfast), which I also didn’t eat.

So yeah, after a bit more than a month of boot camp we got sent over to our ‘specialized’ training, which was even worse if anything – the commanders back there were some of the worst people I ever met.
After that, I got sent to my new base.

That process took a few months, and all the while my depression got worse and worse.
Eventually after a particularly nasty panic attack (over something my commanding officer did, but that’s a story for another time) I was actually sent to the doctor for a check-up.

Doctor Mark was his name, and unlike practically everyone else I liked the guy.

He didn’t buy into anyone’s lies (and let me tell you, 90% of people lie to their doctor in the military to get free days) and he was an expert at what he did.

Doctor Mark was the “tough but fair” type, and I could respect that, he just wanted to help us – and that’s even more respectable to me.

He gave me a knowing smile and told me to take a few blood tests, a couple days later and we got the results in, actually confirming what he already suspected.

My B-12 levels very, very low, to the point where it started becoming very dangerous to me.
He credited my unbalanced diet to my B-12 deficiency, my B-12 deficiency to my depression and my depression to my unbalanced diet, all the while claiming that it was a never ending circle.

So I did what he told me to do, and you know what? It worked!
I actually started feeling better after a short while, results were evident almost immediately after I took my first injection, those were crazy powerful, let me tell you.

B-12 deficiency is a HUGE topic to cover, so I will only be focusing on B12, depression, and anxiety – as those are the only part that are relevant to this website, though there’s a lot more to it than that.

Right, so let’s set it off with some statistics then.

Vitamin B12 Balance

How likely are you to suffer from B-12 deficiency?

According to a research posted by The American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition back in 2008, up to 6% of all people below 60 suffer from B-12 deficiency, with the number rising all the way to 20% later in life.

That number breaks down to 1 out of every 17 people below 60 years old and 1 out of every 5 in older demographics. So yeah, all things considered, you aren’t “unlikely” to suffer from a B-12 deficiency, and that’s something worth checking out, at the very least.

Does it have anything to do with depression?

One of the symptoms of B-12 deficiency is depression, another is anxiety.
So research teams did their best to review the topic in depth in the following research.

They gathered 199 participants who suffered from both B-12 deficiency and depression and split them into two groups, one group was being treated with antidepressants and the other was treated with both antidepressants and B-12 vitamin supplements over the course of three months.

Out of the antidepressants group, 69% of participants showed an improvement of at least 20% in the HAM-D (Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression).

Which is pretty good, all things considered, but the supplements group blew them out of the water.
With 100% of the people (!!!) showing an improvement of at least 20% in the HAM-D.

The conclusion was obvious – an increase in B-12 can play a crucial part in improving depressive symptoms.

What about anxiety?

To put it simply – no, no it doesn’t.
B-12 doesn’t directly relate to anxiety in any way, and the same can be said about B-12 deficiency.
Research suggests the very same thing.

So yes, B-12 deficiency is depression-exclusive in that sense, for it does not cause anxiety.

You should ask for a diagnosis

When it comes to B-12 deficiency the real problem is how common missed diagnoses are.

Not all doctors are like Doctor Mark, who was spending a lot of his free time studying medicine (he really loved his job, and it showed.), and they might not think to send you to take blood tests to check your vitamins unless they think that you have anemia, something that you might develop during later stages of B-12 deficiency.

B-12 deficiency takes a while to get very noticeable, and most doctors don’t diagnose it in time by themselves (wow, sounding a bit dramatic here).

Don’t believe me? Here are a few points to consider:

  1. B-12 isn’t measured in regular blood tests, regardless of the fact that the regular test isn’t expensive. Doctors normally send you to take these tests only once you show symptoms of anemia, but depressive symptoms develop months earlier.
  2. When was the last time you talked to your doctor about your eating habits? Did you ever? It may come off as rude to ask something like that, and they normally just don’t.
    And once they do, how many of you are actually being truthful?
    We don’t like to admit our weaknesses, even to people who are just trying to help us.
  3. It’s kind of subjective, really. Doctors don’t really agree on B-12 deficiency, some claiming that the lower-end is too low, with other saying the opposite, here’s just a quick example.
  4. Folic acids may mask your deficiency. They work together with you B-12 to create healthy blood cells. Healthy blood cells equal no anemia to speak of, yet the depressive symptoms remain.
    Eating food that’s rich in folic acids without food has a lot of B-12 in it can result in this.

So here are a few reasons that your doctor might not be able to diagnose your B-12 deficiency at the moment (or ever, possibly)

It can cause irreversible damage!

I know I said that I will only be discussing depressive symptoms in relation to B-12 deficiency, yet as it stands I will feel terrible about myself If I don’t inform you further.

B-12 deficiency can cause damage to your nerves that may end up irreversible, permanent, so if you needed another reason to hurry and have your blood checked now’s your opportunity.

It can also cause anemia over time, as we discussed earlier, and can stop you from ingesting food properly, making your body dispose of too much of it and cause you to lose weight, possibly leading to anorexia.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on this topic, as I have not researched it as extensively as I did depression and anxiety, yet I must share with you what I know since it’s really that dangerous.

Beef contains Vitamin B12

Alright, so how do I treat it?

As hard and uncommon as it is to diagnose B-12 in time, the treatment itself is very simple.
Eat more food that has B-12 in it, take vitamin supplements, and consider taking B-12 injections – they offer much quicker results, though I would suggest referring to a professional for more advice on that.

B-12 can only be found in animal-based foods, those include, but are not limited to:

  • Beef liver
  • Sardines
  • Oysters
  • Tuna
  • Eggs
  • Salmon
  • Beef (grass-fed, pretty uncommon in comparison)

So yeah, make sure to eat more of these products, take your supplements, take your shots (again, more on that in a later article) and you will start noticing some major changes very soon.

B-12 deficiency is easy to treat and is just as easy to actually cure, so just get on with it!

What should you do know?

Go to a doctor and ask to have you B-12 levels tested, he might think that it’s oddly specific and question you on that, but he really has nothing to lose here.

The procedure is short and very cheap, you will have results within a few days if all is well.

In case you have a B-12 deficiency you should start your treatment right away.
In case you don’t, well, you got this entire site to help you out, yeah?

Right now though make sure to answer this question right here: Do you think that you suffer from B-12 deficiency? Are you going to test it?

Make sure to write your answer down below, I always go through them.
In case you got any question you would like to ask me personally feel free to drop me an email, I will read it and reply to you as soon as I can.

Email: [email protected]

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10 thoughts on “B12, Depression and Anxiety – Can it Save Your Brain?”

  1. Hi Vlad,
    This is a really comprehensive, honest and worthwhile article. Well done! I commend you for sharing your experiences and offering help to others. It’s important stuff. I, too, grappled with anxiety for many years, and B12 was one of the things I looked into. What I found was that I had much more work to do on how I thought and what my habits were, and as things began to change over time, I had a much better sense of what my body would respond to – or not respond to – and began trying tune and tweak it here and there, and that seems to be working well.
    I hope you’re doing something that fulfills you a lot more than your time with the military did. I wish you all the very best of health and happiness and success. Keep up the great work with your site!
    Be well,

    1. Hello Kevin, thank you very much for taking the time to comment!
      I agree with you 100%, habits are where it’s at, so to speak. Aside from stuff like B12 and outside influence, most of your anxiety and depression happens inside your head, and I can’t stress enough how important it is to change the way you think and act to get any worthwhile results. In relation to mental health, this process is called cognitive behavioral therapy.

      As for fulfillment…
      I got this site, for one thing! haha, not much yet, but hopefully I will be able to reach many more people in the future!

      Hope you are doing well,

  2. You certainly had a tough time in the military, but thank goodness you found an understanding doctor who was able to help you.

    This is actually a timely article as my wife recently had a blood test and was told she had a B-12 deficiency and was given a B-12 shot and she has to go back for two more in the next two weeks.

    The good thing is that it is freely available in animal based foods like you said which I think is probably the best way to take it, thanks for sharing this.

    1. Hello Adrian, thank you for your comment!

      I actually didn’t mean my time in the military to sound like a sob story, it was just to get a point across.

      I hope that your wife will feel well, and while eating B12-rich foods can and will help her, if her level is simply too low she will have to go through the injection treatment (in lower levels of deficiency, you won’t be able to draw vital vitamins and mineral from your food)

  3. I too was in the military man and did two tours to Iraq. There were/are so many soldiers who suffer from depression and a lot of them don’t even know it. I’m going to show them your site so they can be open to at least getting seen for a screening or something. Thanks for this!

    – john

    1. Hello John, thank you for your comment!
      Here in Israel it isn’t much different, this lifestyle isn’t for anyone, yet they still force people to join the military. So much so that in no-war years the highest death ratio comes from soldiers who commit suicide, they never released any specific numbers but the point still stand I suppose.

      Thank you for sharing my stuff, it’s my goal to reach as many people as I can!

      Cheers, Vlad.

  4. Hi,

    I found this article very interesting and helpful. Great insight and information when it comes to B12, depression and anxiety. I also liked the list of foods to eat, although beef liver is not my favorite lol.
    A question, if you do have low levels of B12, will it help to take a supplement if you are eating a lot of tuna, eggs and salmon already? If so, what kind of supplement would you recommend?

    Thank you, appreciate this post a lot,

    1. Hello Vicky, how’s it going?
      I myself never took supplements, because I kind of find them meaningless in a way when it comes to B-12
      Look at this way:

      If your are only somewhat deficient in B-12 you could just eat a few animal foods and get back on your feet in no time.

      If you are very deficient, or a vegan, then you will have to take B-12 injections.

      I myself never found much use for supplements in relation to B-12 deficiency, yet if you would want them then you should ask your doctor, he is an expert and he would give you the best recommendation.

  5. Thanks for an informative article about B 12 and depression.
    I actually did take B 12 supplements when I was younger because my doctor found out this deficiency. I also suffered from depression and didn’t think it had something to do with not eating properly.
    I know today that it has something to do with the food I didn’t eat back then.
    Today, I am much more conscious and eat more nutritious food.
    I don’t suffer from depression anymore.
    Can B 12 deficiency be really harmful if it happens over a long period of time?


    1. Hello Tove, thanks for taking your time to comment!

      Glad to hear that you don’t suffer from depression any more!

      Also, yes, B12 deficiency can lead to irreversible damage to your nervous system, so you are far better off just treating it the moment it’s found – B12 deficiency is very easy to treat!

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