Vitamin B is a group of water based vitamins which are very closely linked to mental health problems. Although each vitamin has its own features it is generally recommended that they are taken together.
Vitamin B1 is also known as thiamine. A deficiency in this can lead to confusion and memory problems. Deficiency is particularly common in older people and those with high alcohol intake and those with diabetes. The best sources are whole grains, cereals and beans, meat, unrefined and fortified foods, dried fruits and nuts and green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin B6 is pyridoxal. A deficiency is linked with depression, chronic pain and convulsions. Deficiency is fairly common, nearly half of women over 50 may be deficient. Other people at risk are older men, women who have been on the contraceptive pill and those with excessive alcohol intake. The best sources of this are sunflower seeds, pistachio nuts, fish and poultry. The best sources are spinach, lentils and beans.
Vitamin B9 is folic acid. It is believed that a large number of those with depression are deficient in this nutrient. A deficiency is linked with behavioural disorders. The best sources are spinach, lentils and beans.
Vitamin B12 is cobalamin. Deficiency can lead to to depression and irritability. It is more likely in vegetarians and older people.
Biotin is also a member of the Vitamin B Group. It is linked to nervous system functioning. Whilst deficiencies are uncommon, symptoms can include insomnia and fatigue.
B Vitamins - The Evidence
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that is mainly found in plant oils and green leafy vegetables. Amongst other things a deficiency in this can lead to problems of the nervous system and of brain function. Other symptom include anaemia, muscle weakness and balance and sight problems. Deficiencies are uncommon, but do happen.