Summary:

First paragraph reads:  "DEAR DR. GOTT: I have suffered from major depression since my teens. Prescription medications did not help; in fact, I twice tried suicide while taking them."


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Do vitamins work as antidepressants?

Intelligencer, The (Doylestown, PA) - October 16, 2005

DEAR DR. GOTT: I have suffered from major depression since my teens. Prescription medications did not help; in fact, I twice tried suicide while taking them.

Since using sublingual vitamin B-12 and folic acid, I am a different person. This vitamin combination is the only thing that has helped me.

DEAR DR. GOTT: I believe that you were too quick to dismiss sublingual B-12/folic acid as a cure - yes, a cure - for depression. I was almost killed by the standard antidepression prescription drugs.

Since taking the vitamin preparation, I am coping much better, have inner peace once again and have no side effects. The vitamin prep is real and is working for me.

DEAR READERS: To say that your experiences are intriguing is the understatement of the year. If your observations are valid, millions of Americans could be helped by a simple, inexpensive and safe therapy for depression.

Therefore, as is my standard approach when faced with an unfamiliar therapy, I am asking for feedback on this topic. Please write me if you have had any experience using vitamin B-12/folic acid under the tongue therapy. Obviously, I am interested in positive responses, but I am equally open to negative responses as well.

I'd like to remind my readers that we have been disappointed with some past alternative therapies. However, some (such as Vicks VapoRub for nail fungus and grape juice and Certo for arthritis) have proved to be enormous successes.

The issue to resolve is simple: Does vitamin therapy for depression work, or is it yet another baseless moneymaking scheme?

DEAR DR. GOTT: What are the most recent guidelines for vitamin supplements?

DEAR READER: This appropriate topic was recently reviewed in the Medical Letter (July 18, 2005), which is a valuable fund of information.

Vitamin E was previously recommended as an inexpensive antioxidant that had beneficial health consequences. Now that view has changed because large doses of vitamin E (higher than 400 international units, or IU, a day) were shown to lead to increased rates of death and heart failure. Therefore, we are probably better off avoiding supplemental vitamin E, relying instead on dietary sources such as vegetable oils and nuts.

Vitamin A, another antioxidant, has been shown in studies to increase the risk of hip fractures, lung cancer and cardiovascular mortality. Once again, we are probably better off relying on dietary sources of beta-carotene and vitamin A, including dairy products, fish and green or yellow fruits and vegetables.

Vitamin D supplements (500 to 800 IU per day) will help protect elderly patients from osteoporosis and are an integral addition to the therapy for this disorder. Natural sources include fish and fortified milk.

Vitamin C has been overrated in the past. It does not protect against upper-respiratory infections and has no effect on mortality. In fact, higher doses of vitamin C (more than 1 gram a day) may cause diarrhea; in addition, high levels are associated with the formation of kidney stones.

Vitamin B-12 may be incompletely absorbed in up to 30 percent of seniors. Therefore, B-12-fortified cereals or supplements are appropriate. The recommended dosage is 2.4 micrograms a day.

Folate (folic acid) is a vital addition to the diets of pregnant women in order to prevent nerve damage in their infants. The vitamin may also reduce the level of homocysteine, a marker for the presence of arterial inflammation in the body.

The ideal level has yet to be determined for pyridoxine, also known as vitamin B-6.

In summary, most healthy middle-aged people can continue to rely on dietary sources of most vitamins.

Elderly persons should probably use vitamin D supplements (to prevent osteoporosis) and vitamin B-12 (to prevent anemia, forgetfulness and other symptoms).

Vitamin C supplements are unnecessary.

Newspaper Enterprise Association
Edition: SUNDAY A
Section: FEATURES ADVICE
Page: 7D
Record Number: 2796829
Copyright, 2005, The Intelligencer
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Do vitamins work as antidepressants?