Jan 30, 2007 • By Nick Bell •
Given the frequency and popularity of alcohol consumption around the world and the fact that alcohol depletes vitamin B5, deficiency of the vitamin may be a lot more common than we thought. In this article, SKinB5 takes a look at the correlation between alcohol consumption, vitamin B5 deficiency and depression.
Symptoms of vitamin B5 deficiency are fatigue, chronic stress, and depression. Vitamin B5 is needed for hormone formation and the uptake of amino acids and the brain chemical acetylcholine, which combine to prevent certain types of depression.
An important function of vitamin B5 is that it aids the body in alcohol detoxification. It is also needed to counteract stress and to maintain a healthy nervous system. A study showed that vitamin B5 speeds up liver detoxification of acetaldehyde after alcohol consumption. This is very important for those who consume excessive alcohol because acetaldehyde appears to be a major chemical in the toxic process that accompanies long term alcohol use. Vitamin B5 is required in increased amounts in liver disease and in those who use alcohol excessively.
Alcoholism and Depression
Biochemical depression has certain symptoms that distinguish it from the depression stemming from negative life events. Heavy drinking is a major contributor to biochemical depression. You are likely to be biologically depressed if:
- You have been depressed for a long time despite changes in your life
- Talk therapy has little or no effect; in fact, psychological probing
- You don't react to good news
- You awaken very early in the morning and can't get back to sleep
- You cannot trace the onset of your depression to any event in your life
- Your moods may swing between depression and elation over a period of months in a regular rhythm (this suggests bipolar, or manic-depressive, disorder)
- Heavy drinking makes your depression worse
Depression, like the other emotional problems, often has biochemical roots that stem from the destructive effect of alcohol on the chemistry of the brain. Research has verified the relationship between biochemistry and depression. Autopsies of people who have committed suicide have revealed biochemical disruptions that are unique to suicidal depression.
Vitamin and Mineral Deficiency and Depression
The effect of nutritional deficiencies on brain chemistry can cause depression, anger, listlessness, and paranoia.
One of the most dramatic cases of vitamin and mineral deficiencies involved a man who had been arrested four times for drunken driving but continued to drink daily. He was thirty, divorced, and living alone. He rarely ate more than one meal a day, usually fast food or junk food. He lived on coffee, cigarettes, and beer. Paul confided that he was probably going to lose his sales job because he could no longer motivate himself. He blamed all of his troubles on depression. There were so many aspects of his lifestyle that suggested a real depletion of the natural chemicals he needed to recover from alcoholism and depression.
The man was diagnosed and given B-complex shots, and he remarked that his doctor must have injected him with an amphetamine! The effect of restoring these life-giving substances was dramatic. He also made many lifestyle changes that contributed to his recovery, but one of the most important was the replacement of certain key natural substances that helped relieve his depression.
Vitamin B5 (and B-Complex Vitamins)
Vitamin B5 and the B-complex vitamins are essential to mental and emotional well-being. They cannot be stored in our bodies, so we depend entirely on our daily diet to supply them. B vitamins, particularly vitamin B5 which are easily destroyed in cooking and modern food processing, are destroyed by alcohol, refined sugars, nicotine, and caffeine-the very substances that most alcoholics consume almost to the exclusion of everything else. Small wonder that deficiencies develop.
Here's a rundown of recent findings about the relationship of B-complex vitamins to depression:
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): Symptoms of deficiency are fatigue, chronic stress, and depression. Vitamin B5 is needed for hormone formation and the uptake of amino acids and the brain chemical acetylcholine, which combine to prevent certain types of depression.
- Vitamin B (thiamine): Deficiencies trigger depression and irritability and can cause neurological and cardiac disorders among alcoholics.
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): In 1982 an article published in the British Journal of Psychiatry reported that every one of 172 successive patients admitted to a British psychiatric hospital for treatment of depression was deficient in B2.
- Vitamin B3 (niacin): Depletion causes anxiety, depression, apprehension, and fatigue.
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): Deficiency can disrupt formation of neurotransmitters. Vitamin B6 is a coenzyme needed for conversion of tryptophan to serotonin and phenylalanine and tyrosine to norepinephrine. I have discussed the relationships of these neurotransmitters to depression earlier in this chapter.
- Vitamin B12: Deficiency will cause depression.
- Folic acid: Deficiency is a common cause of depression.
Continuing vitamin C deficiency causes chronic depression, fatigue, and vague ill health.
Deficiencies in a number of minerals can also cause depression.
- Zinc: Inadequacies result in apathy, lack of appetite, and lethargy. When zinc is low, copper in the body can increase to toxic levels, resulting in paranoia and fearfulness.
- Magnesium: Symptoms of deficiency include confusion, apathy, loss of appetite, weakness, and insomnia.
- Calcium: Depletion affects the central nervous system. Low levels of calcium cause nervousness, apprehension, irritability, and numbness.
- Iron: Depression is often a symptom of chronic iron deficiency. Other symptoms include general weakness, listlessness, exhaustion, lack of appetite, and headaches.
- Manganese: This metal is needed for proper use of the B-complex vitamins and vitamin C. Since it also plays a role in amino-acid formation, a deficiency may contribute to depression stemming from low levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine. Manganese also helps stabilize blood sugar and prevent hypoglycemic mood swings.
- Potassium: Depletion is frequently associated with depression, fearfulness, weakness, and fatigue. A 1981 study found that depressed patients were more likely than controls to have decreased intracellular potassium. Decreased brain levels of potassium have also been found on autopsies of suicides. You can boost your potassium intake by using one teaspoon of Morton's Lite-Salt every day.
The Safety of Supplements
Vitamin C and the B-complex vitamins discussed above are all water soluble. This means that they can't accumulate in your body or be stored for future use. Amounts above and beyond your current nutritional needs are dumped into your urine. As a result, there is no danger of overdose.
Unlike water soluble vitamins, minerals can be stored in your tissues. Therefore, please do not exceed the recommended therapeutic doses, since accumulation of minerals in the body can be dangerous.
SkinB5 contains vitamin B5 and zinc, so whilst treating your acne, it can help prevent alcohol related depression and support mental health.