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Social Connection May Be Strongest Protection Against Depression

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have found that social connection may be the strongest protective factor against depression, and suggest that reducing sedentary activities such as TV watching and daytime napping could also help reduce the risk of depression.

The team identified a set of modifiable factors from a field of more than 100 that could represent valuable targets for preventing depression in adults.

The findings are published in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

“Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, but until now researchers have focused on only a handful of risk and protective factors, often in just one or two domains,” says Karmel Choi, Ph.D., investigator in the Department of Psychiatry and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and lead author of the paper. “Our study provides the most comprehensive picture to date of modifiable factors that could impact depression risk.”

The researchers took a two-stage approach. The first stage drew on a database of more than 100,000 participants in the UK Biobank to systematically scan a wide range of modifiable factors that might be linked to the risk of developing depression, including social interaction, media use, sleep patterns, diet, physical activity, and environmental exposures.

This method, known as an exposure-wide association scan (ExWAS), is comparable to genome-wide association studies (GWAS) that have been widely used to identify genetic risk factors for disease.

The second stage took the strongest modifiable candidates from ExWAS and applied a technique called Mendelian randomization (MR) to investigate which factors may have a causal relationship to depression risk.

MR is a statistical method that treats genetic variation between people as a kind of natural experiment to determine whether an association is likely to reflect causation rather than just correlation.

This two-stage approach allowed the MGH researchers to narrow the field to a smaller set of promising and potentially causal targets for depression.

“Far and away the most prominent of these factors was frequency of confiding in others, but also visits with family and friends, all of which highlighted the important protective effect of social connection and social cohesion,” said senior author Jordan Smoller, M.D., Sc.D., associate chief for research in the MGH Department of Psychiatry.

“These factors are more relevant now than ever at a time of social distancing and separation from friends and family.”

The protective effects of social connection were found even among individuals who were at greater risk for depression as a result of genetic vulnerability or early life trauma.

On the other hand, factors linked to depression risk included time spent watching TV, though the authors note that more studies are needed to determine if that risk was due to media exposure or whether time in front of the TV was representative of being sedentary.

Perhaps more surprising, the tendency for daytime napping and regular use of multivitamins appeared to be tied to depression risk, though more research is needed to determine how these might be linked.

The study demonstrates an important new approach for evaluating a wide range of modifiable factors, and using this evidence to prioritize targets for preventive interventions for depression.

“Depression takes an enormous toll on individuals, families, and society, yet we still know very little about how to prevent it,” says Smoller.

“We’ve shown that it’s now possible to address these questions of broad public health significance through a large-scale, data-based approach that wasn’t available even a few years ago. We hope this work will motivate further efforts to develop actionable strategies for preventing depression.”

By Traci Pedersen Associate News Editor      15 Aug 2020

Source: Massachusetts General Hospital   psychcentral.com

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3 Mental Problems
Linked To Vitamin B12 Deficiency

The deficiency is easy to rectify with diet or supplementation.

Mental confusion can be a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency, research suggests.

People with a B12 deficiency can have problems with their memory and concentration.

Depression symptoms like low mood and low energy are also linked to the deficiency.

Low levels of vitamin B12 can even contribute to brain shrinkage, other studies have suggested.

Around one-in-eight people over 50 are low in vitamin B12 levels, recent research finds.

The rates of deficiency are even higher in those who are older.

Fortunately, these deficiencies are easy to rectify with diet or supplementation.

Good dietary sources of vitamin B12 include fish, poultry, eggs and low-fat milk.

Fortified breakfast cereals also contain vitamin B12.

People who may have difficulty getting enough vitamin B12 include vegetarians, older people and those with some digestive disorders, such as Crohn’s disease.

One study has found that high doses of B vitamins can help reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is one of the most serious types of mental illness.

It can cause delusions, hallucinations, confused thinking and dramatic changes in behaviour.

The study reviewed 18 different clinical trials, including 832 patients.

It found that high doses of B vitamins helped reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia.

The vitamins were particularly effective if used early on in treatment.

Dr Joseph Firth, the study’s lead author, said:

“Looking at all of the data from clinical trials of vitamin and mineral supplements for schizophrenia to date, we can see that B vitamins effectively improve outcomes for some patients.

This could be an important advance, given that new treatments for this condition are so desperately needed.”

Professor Jerome Sarris, study co-author, said:

“This builds on existing evidence of other food-derived supplements, such as certain amino-acids, been beneficial for people with schizophrenia.”

About the author

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.

He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. 

The study was published in the journal Psychological Medicine (Firth et al., 2017).

August 20, 2020

source: PsyBlog


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Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on July 23, 2015

Are you getting enough vitamin B12? Many people don’t, and that deficiency can cause some serious problems.

Vitamin B12 does a lot of things for your body. It helps make your DNA and your red blood cells, for examples.

Since your body doesn’t make vitamin B12, you’ll need to get it from animal-based foods or from supplements, and it needs to be consumed on a regular basis.  Exactly how much you need and where you should get it from depends on things like your age, the diet you follow, your medical conditions, and in some cases what medications you take.

Causes of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency can happen if you have certain conditions, such as:

  • Atrophic gastritis, in which your stomach lining has thinned
  • Pernicious anemia, which makes it hard for your body to absorb vitamin B12
  • Surgery that removed part of your stomach or small intestine, including weight loss surgery
  • Conditions affecting the small intestine, such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, bacterial growth, or a parasite
  • Heavy drinking
  • Immune system disorders, such as Graves’ disease or lupus
  • Long-term use of acid-reducing drugs. Stomach acids help break down animal proteins that have vitamin B12.

You can also get vitamin B12 deficiency if you’re a vegan (meaning you don’t eat any animal products, including meat, milk, cheese, and eggs) or a vegetarian who doesn’t eat enough eggs or dairy products to meet your vitamin B12 needs.

Babies born to mothers who are vegetarians may also not get enough vitamin B12. Vegans can take supplements containing vitamin B12 or by eating vitamin B12-fortified grains.

The risk of B12 deficiency also increases with age.

Vitamin-B12-Rich-Foods

 

Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

A deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to anemia. A mild deficiency may cause no symptoms. But if untreated, it may progress and cause symptoms such as:

  • Weakness, tiredness, or lightheadedness
  • Heart palpitations and shortness of breath
  • Pale skin
  • A smooth tongue
  • Constipation, diarrhea, a loss of appetite, or gas
  • Nerve problems like numbness or tingling, muscle weakness, and problems walking
  • Vision loss
  • Mental problems like depression, memory loss, or behavioral changes

If you think you have symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, you can ask your doctor for a blood test.

Infants who are born to vegan mothers and exclusively breastfed  are at risk for anemia, developmental delays, weakness, and failure to thrive.

Treatment for Vitamin B12 Deficiency

If you have pernicious anemia or a problem with its absorption, you’ll need to replace vitamin B12 by injection initially and then continued injections, high doses of an oral replacement, or nasal therapy for life.

If the issue is that you don’t eat animal products, you can change your diet to include vitamin B12-fortified grains, a supplement or B12 injections, or a high-dose oral vitamin B12 if you are deficient.

The elderly should take a daily B12 supplement or a multivitamin that contains B12.

For most people, treatment resolves the problem. But any nerve damage that happened due to the deficiency could be permanent.

Preventing Deficiency Problems

Most people can prevent vitamin B12 deficiency by eating enough meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products, and eggs.

If you don’t eat animal products, or you have a medical condition that limits how well your body absorbs nutrients, experts recommend taking a B12-containing multivitamin and eating breakfast cereal fortified with vitamin B12.

If you’re using vitamin B12 supplements, let your doctor know, so he or she can make sure they won’t affect any medicines you’re taking.

Article Sources
University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) Extension: “Facts About Vitamin B12.”
University of Arizona’s Arizona Telemedicine Program: “Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Pernicious Anemia.”
Harvard Health Publications: “Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Vegetarians, elderly may not get enough vitamin B12, says the Harvard Health Letter.”
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: “Pernicious Anemia.”
Oregon State University’s Linus Pauling Institute: “Vitamin B12.”
Kaiser Permanente: “Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia.”
National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: ” Vitamin B12.”
MedlinePlus: “Anemia — B12 deficiency.”

Source: WebMD


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Vitamin B-12

17th November 2014      By Dr. Edward F. Group     Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

Vitamin B-12 is one of the more discussed vitamins and for good reason. It is important for your health overall as it helps several organs and systems in your body function properly, including the brain, the nervous and skeletal systems, DNA replication and energy creation processes.

Let’s take a look at a few reasons why it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin B-12.

1. Supports Cardiovascular Health

You’ve probably heard that B-12 is good for cardiovascular health. The way that works is this…

Homocysteine is a protein that naturally forms as a byproduct of your body’s processes. When it builds up, it can corrode and inflame arteries and blood vessels, placing strain on the heart and cardiovascular system. Vitamin B-12 helps converts homocysteine to methionine, a protein the body uses for positive, essential activities.

2. Supports Energy Levels

One of the positive, essential activities that methionine is involved with is cellular energy creation.

3. Promotes Normal DNA and RNA Replication

Your body’s genetic material, DNA and RNA, need vitamin B-12 and folate (Vitamin B9) to replicate correctly. Without it, genetic material can be damaged and lead to mutations. Some speculation has even risen that low B-12 levels are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

4. Protects the Nervous System

In addition to converting homocysteine, the methylcobalamin form of B-12 encourages the formation of a protective covering for nerve cells called myelin. This covering protects nerve cells from free radicals and toxins which may be in the blood stream.

5. Protects the Brain, Too

The methylcobalamin form of B12 circulates in the blood stream and can cross the blood-brain barrier to support brain cells just as it protects nerve cells. In one study, 77 patients suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease had significantly lower vitamin B12 levels than individuals in the control group. [1] Other symptoms of low B12 levels include numbness in the hands and feet, memory loss, and disorientation.

B12_sources

6. Encourages a Balanced Mood

Vitamin B-12 plays a role in the creation of serotonin, a chemical that influences brain function and overall mood. In one study researchers examined the effect of B-12 on the brains of diabetic patients who experienced mood imbalances. The diabetic patients with normal levels of B-12 enjoyed better cognitive performance and lower incidence of depression compared to B-12 deficient patients. [2]

7. Essential for Fetal Development

High homocysteine levels in pregnant mothers directly impact fetal growth. Since adequate B-12 contributes to normal homocysteine levels, it can support fetal development. [3]

8. Supports Bone Health

Homocysteine appears to have an impact on skeletal health, too. In recent study 50 patients suffering from osteoporosis were compared to 50 patients with normal bone density levels. Tests showed the osteoporosis patients had high levels of homocysteine and substantially lower levels of vitamin B-12, as well as folate and vitamin B6. [4]

Getting Enough B-12

As essential as B-12 is, it can be tricky to get enough in your diet. Foods that contain B-12 include red meat, organ meats like kidneys and liver, eggs, yogurt, and cheese, and seafood — definitely a problem for vegans or vegetarians. Additionally, many people, especially adults over 50, have trouble absorbing B-12. Commonly prescribed drugs can also cause nutritionally deficiencies, including Vitamin B-12, which have been linked to many health conditions.

One way to fill the gaps between your nutrient intake and nutrient requirements is to supplement. For B-12 supplementation, I like VeganSafe B-12. It contains natural and most bioavailable forms of vitamin B12, methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin in an easily absorbed liquid formula.

– Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

Article references: 
[1] Kim H, Lee KJ. Serum homocysteine levels are correlated with behavioral and psychological symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2014 Oct 3;10:1887-96. doi: 10.2147/NDT.S68980. eCollection 2014. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25336954
[2] Biemans E1, Hart HE, Rutten GE, Cuellar Renteria VG, Kooijman-Buiting AM, Beulens JW. Cobalamin status and its relation with depression, cognition and neuropathy in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus using metformin. Acta Diabetol. 2014 Oct 15. [Epub ahead of print] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25315630
[3] Yajnik CS1, Chandak GR2, Joglekar C3, Katre P3, Bhat DS3, Singh SN3, Janipalli CS3, Refsum H4, Krishnaveni G3, Veena S3, Osmond C3, Fall CH3. Maternal homocysteine in pregnancy and offspring birthweight: epidemiological associations and Mendelian randomization analysis. Int J Epidemiol. 2014 Oct;43(5):1487-97. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyu132. Epub 2014 Jul 22. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25052622
[4] Ebesunun MO, Umahoin KO, Alonge TO, Adebusoye LA. Plasma homocysteine, B vitamins and bone mineral density in osteoporosis: a possible risk for bone fracture. Afr J Med Med Sci. 2014 Mar;43(1):41-7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25335377


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Everything You Need To Know About B12 Deficiency

By   Dr. Amy Myers   August 29, 2013

I recently found myself wanting a sweet treat that would satisfy me without making my blood sugar levels go AWOL and see me needing a nap an hour later, so I perused my cupboards, pulled out Read

Vegetarians and vegans are not the only ones who can develop a Vitamin B12 deficiency. Whether you’re young or old; a Paleo, gluten-free, or raw foods enthusiast, you too can suffer from this. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, one in every 31 adults in the US, age 51 or older, is deficient in vitamin B12.

What is B12?

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin required for many reactions in your body as well as for the health of your nerves, red blood cells, and DNA. Its most important role is as a methyl group donor, which is a crucial step in many of our main detoxification pathways.

B12 has many forms, and the most common are cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin (methyl-B12). Cyanocobalamin is commonly found in supplements and energy drinks. However, in order for our bodies to use it, cyanocobalamin must be converted into methylcobalamin.

To make matters more complicated, about 50% of the population is estimated to have at least one mutation at the MTHFR gene and 10% has two mutations, meaning they’re less able to methylate B12 or convert cyanocobalamin to methylcobalamin. (I personally have two gene mutations.) In fact, the more mutations one has at this gene, the less able one is to make this conversion, requiring supplementation with Methyl-B12, Folate, and B6.

Common Signs of  B12 Deficiency:

  •     Weakness, fatigue or low energy
  •     Shortness of breath
  •     Heart palpitations
  •     Loss of appetite
  •     Digestive issues such as diarrhea or constipation
  •     Frequent bruising or bleeding
  •     Anemia
  •     Depression or mood issues
  •     Numbness and tingling in hands or feet
  •     Brain fog, memory loss, confusion, dementia

If ignored, a B12 deficiency can affect the entire body, leading to permanent brain and nerve damage. Sometimes B12 deficiencies can be overlooked and misdiagnosed as other disorders like Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, bipolar disorder, autism, and some cancers.

Best sources of B12

Our bodies do not make vitamin B12, which means that we must get it through our diet or through supplementation. The average adult needs 2.4 micrograms a day, and the best dietary sources of vitamin B12 are animal products such as:

  •     Meat
  •     Poultry
  •     Fish
  •     Eggs

Vegan sources of B12 include nutritional yeast, algae, and seaweed, but studies have shown that these sources have little to no effect on B12 blood levels.

Common Causes of B12 Deficiency:

The absorption, assimilation and methylation of B12 is a very complex process, which leaves many opportunities for error.  For this reason, even those who consume sufficient amounts of vitamin B12 in their diets could still have a functional B12 deficiency.  Some causes of B12 deficiency are:

  •     Vegan and Vegetarian diets
  •     MTHFR gene mutations
  •     Pernicious anemia
  •     Autoimmune diseases such as Graves’ disease and systemic lupus erythematosus
  •     Intestinal inflammation from Crohn’s or celiac disease
  •     Excessive alcohol consumption
  •     Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) and leaky gut
  •     Low stomach acid from prolonged use of stomach acid-reducing drugs
  •     Bariatric surgeries

How to test for B12 deficiency:

  •     Complete Blood Count (CBC)

This test, when it reveals the red blood cells to be very large, can indicate megaloblastic anemia, which is caused by a B12 and/or folate deficiency. Note that this doesn’t always reflect how well the body is able to use B12—as it doesn’t account for individuals with mutations at the MTHFR gene, for example.

  •     MTHFR genetic test

The more mutations one has to this gene, the more they require B12, folate, and B6 for their detoxification pathways and body to function optimally. It’s estimated that those with one mutation decrease their ability to methylate by 30% and those with two mutations decrease their ability to methylate by 70%, making it virtually impossible get adequate B12 from diet alone.

  •     Homocysteine test

Very low or high blood levels of homocysteine can indicate a B12, folate, and/or B6 deficiency.

  •     Methylmalonic acid test

This measures the B12 stored in tissues, which makes it more specific to B12 deficiency than the other blood tests

  •     Organic Acid Test

This is a test frequently ordered by a Functional Medicine physician to determine how well an individual is able processes, methylate and functionally use B12.  I use this test most frequently on those with one or more MTHFR mutations.

How do I get more B12?

  •     Eat a diet rich in animal protein

Individuals without dietary restrictions or MTHFR mutations can simply consume more meat, fish, poultry, and eggs in their diets.  You may also consider taking a high quality multivitamin with methyl-B12.

  •     Consume a high-dose oral supplement of methylcobalamin (methyl-B12)

This option is a MUST for those with mutations at the MTHFR gene. This is also recommended for vegetarians, vegans, the elderly, and anyone else with low levels of B12. When looking for B12 supplements in the store, be sure to look for it in the form of methylcobalamin instead of cyanocobalamin. Methyl-B12 is the best form for the body to utilize and will have the greatest impact on your B12 levels.

  •     Take sublingual methyl-B12 drops

A sublingual supplement of B12 is recommended for those with SIBO or other gut issues affecting absorption.

  •     Get B12 shots

These are recommended for those with pernicious anemia or severely depleted B12 levels. Methyl- B12 can be injected directly into the muscle tissue to accelerate absorption and replenish muscle stores.

How do I treat B12 deficiency?

  •     Optimize nutrition
  •     Fix gut
  •     Check MTHFR genes and supplement if one or more mutations
  •     Test CBC (Complete Blood Count)
  •     Ask your doctor to run Organic Acid Test
  •     Supplement if necessary