The shocker list of deficiencies that may contribute to depression

A still life of healthy foods.
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Depression can be alleviated naturally, without pharmaceuticals in about 90% of depressed people by:

  • eating breakfast; eating regularly, eating healthy
  • taking bioavailable multivitamins regularly
  • adding supplements like amino acids and/or St. john’s wort to a good diet
  • reducing caffeine, alcohol, and sugar intake
  • manipulating brainwaves with binaural beats
  • regular moderate exercise
  • talk therapy

As noted, depression (as in grief and sadness) stemming from a life event such as death in the family, change in social life, injury or long-term illness is a natural reaction. Sometimes dietary deficiency is secondary to a mental illness. In many cases, poor diets actually initiate mild depression and apathy. So determining the cause for a bout of the blues that came out of nowhere can be a mystery.

Here is the shocker list of vitamins and nutrients that could cause or contribute to depression if your body is deficient:

B Vitamins

Low levels of all the B vitamins have been associated with various mood disorders; anxiety and depression included. In fact, depression and/or dementia may be reversed if the cause was nutritional deficiency17. Dietary supplements of the B vitamins have been used to successfully treat these mood disorders. For instance, one out of four depressed patients are deficient in vitamins B6 and B12, and when doctors supply these patients with B6 supplements, the depression is improved or disappears altogether, indicating the depression was caused by the deficiency. A high intake of caffeine inhibits the absorption of all B vitamins. Antibiotics and oral contraceptives also deplete the body of B vitamins. The B vitamins work as a team, so a deficiency in one may also indicate a deficiency in another.

17. Patenaude, Jan. “Nutrient Deficiency-Related Depression and Mental Changes in Elderly Persons.” Home Health Care Management & Practice, Vol. 9, No. 1, 29-39 (1996).


Important for cognitive activity and brain function. Deficiency symptoms include: nervousness, fatigue, forgetfulness, irritability, loss of appetite, pain and sensitivity, tingling sensations, and general weakness.

Largest amounts found in: brown rice, egg yolks, fish, legumes, liver, peanuts, peas, pork, poultry, rice bran, wheat germ, and whole grains.


Deficient in 30% of elderly. Deficiency symptoms include: blurred vision, cataracts, depression, dermatitis, dizziness, hair loss, inflamed eyes, mouth lesions, nervousness, neurological symptoms (numbness, loss of sensation, “electric shock” sensations), seizures, sensitivity to light, sleepiness, weakness.

Largest amounts found in: cheese, egg yolks, fish, legumes, meat, milk, poultry, spinach, whole grains, and yogurt.


Commonly deficient in elderly. Aids in the functioning of the nervous system. It is helpful for schizophrenia and other mental illnesses and is a memory enhancer. Deficiency symptoms include: bad breath, canker sores, confusion, dementia, depression, diarrhea, dizziness, emotional instability, fatigue, halitosis, headaches, indigestion, insomnia, limb pains, loss of appetite, low blood sugar, muscular weakness, inflammation.

Largest amounts found in: beef liver, brewer’s yeast, broccoli, carrots, cheese, corn flour, dandelion greens, dates, eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, pork, potatoes, tomatoes, wheat germ, and whole wheat products.

B5-Pantothenic acid

This nutrient is involved in the production of neurotransmitters, which we’ll later learn are a key to healthy moods. Average elderly diet contains 60% of RDA. Deficiency symptoms include: abdominal pains, burning feet, depression, eczema, fatigue, hair loss, immune impairment, insomnia, irritability, low blood pressure, muscle spasms, nausea, poor coordination, restlessness.

Largest amounts found in: beef, brewer’s yeast, eggs, fresh vegetables like collard greens and potatoes, kidney, legumes, liver, mushrooms, nuts, oranges, pork, royal jelly, saltwater fish, whole rye flour, and whole wheat.


71% of male and 90% of female diets deficient. Deficiency symptoms include: acne, anemia, arthritis, eye inflammation, depression, dizziness, facial oiliness, fatigue, impaired wound healing, irritability, loss of appetite, loss of hair, mouth lesions, nausea. *Antidepressants, estrogen therapy, and oral contraceptives increase the need for vitamin B6.

Found in: (most food contains some, but here are the richest sources) brewer’s yeast, carrots, chicken, eggs, fish, meat, peas, spinach, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and wheat germ.


Serum levels low in 25% of depressed hospital patients. Deficiency symptoms include: anemia, constipation, depression, dizziness, fatigue, intestinal disturbances, headaches, irritability, loss of vibration sensation, low stomach acid, mental disturbances, moodiness, mouth lesions, numbness, spinal cord degeneration.

Largest amounts found in: brewer’s yeast, clams, eggs, herring, kidney, liver, mackerel, milk and dairy products, and seafood, and seaweed like nori or kelp.