14% of the population in Ireland is aged 65 and over. As an older adult, it’s important to be aware of your mental health, because it can have an effect on your day-to-day living, physical health and overall wellbeing. That is why we have dedicated the month of February to speak all about mental health.
This year an interesting study carried out by the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) has found that a lack of vitamin B12 in our diet can increase the likelihood of developing depressive symptoms by up to 51%. In fact, 1 in 8 of the elderly in Ireland have reported to having low levels of vitamin B12.
Let’s learn a bit more about Vitamin B12 shall we?
What is vitamin B12?
In a nutshell, B12 is an essential vitamin that your body needs but cannot produce itself.
It plays many roles in your body. B12 supports the normal function of your nerve cells, is needed to help form red blood cells and helps in the making of DNA. It can also help prevent megaloblastic anemia which is a blood condition that can have you feeling tired and weak.
Sources of vitamin B12:
We’re big fans of our meat and two vegetable dinners in Ireland, so you will be happy to know that B12 can be found in animal products such as:
- Dairy products
How can vitamin B12 benefit my mental health?
It helps with the production of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin helps to regulate your mood, so, if your serotonin levels are low, this can lead to feelings of sadness and depression.
This is why it may be a good idea to speak with your doctor about checking your vitamin B levels and where possible to recommend a change in diet or supplements.