The key to beating back depression might come in bottle... just not the one you're thinking of.
A new study finds that common B vitamins--taken in supplement form--can help seniors lower their risk of battling the blues.
Researchers followed some 3,500 Chicago seniors for an average of 7.2 years, asking them about vitamin B6 and B12 intake from both food and supplements. They were also assessed using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale.
And the researchers found what appeared to be a pretty direct relationship between those two B vitamins and depression: Every 10 milligram increase in vitamin B6 and 10 microgram boost in B12 reduced the risk of depression symptoms by 2 percent per year, according to the study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The researchers say the association held even after they adjusted for smoking, drinking, the death of a spouse, disability, and other problems that might put seniors in the dumps.
But what I found most interesting about this study is that the researchers didn't see any depression boost from increased B vitamins in food--just supplements. So while you should still strive to get most of your nutrition from your dinner plate, this study is a good reminder that supplements can pick up where your food leaves off.
And that's not all these busy Bs will do for you, because another new study finds that vitamin B6 may help protect against cancer.
The study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people with the highest levels of B6 had roughly half the lung cancer risk of those with the lowest levels--and that the benefit held even after adjusting for smokers.
Vitamin B6 has also been linked to a lower risk of colorectal cancer and Parkinson's disease, and it may help boost the immune system and keep your blood-sugar levels in check.
Its "B" partner, vitamin B12, is no slouch either. This critical nutrient can help protect you from major psychological disorders, including biggies such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It also plays a key role in memory, and can help boost your energy levels and ward off fatigue.
The best sources of B6 include potatoes, bananas and garbanzo beans, while you can get B12 from meat (especially liver), fish and dairy. But as the new study shows, don't be afraid to get what you need from a supplement, either-- because sometimes, you really can find an answer in a bottle of pills.