Sunday 28 January 2018

10 Vitamins for Depression That Could Boost Your Mood

Vitamin D 

Depending on where you live in the country, or the world, vitamin D can be hard to come by. A full three-quarters of American teens and adults are deficient in the "sunshine vitamin," most likely because their exposure to sunlight is limited—and the body makes vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight. But this nutrient is very important and plays a role in most bodily functions. "There are a large number of receptors for vitamin D in the brain, indicating that it plays a role in cognitive function," explains Amanda Frick, ND, lead naturopathic doctor for Harvey Health. She recommends a dose of daily sun exposure (after applying sunscreen) for at least 20 minutes each day or 2,000 IU daily of vitamin D supplements.  

Omega 3s  

Emerging research supports the theory that omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in brain health, specifically when it comes to improving symptoms of depression, cognitive functioning and mood overall. One of the key ways to score more omega-3s in your diet is to eat fatty fish, like mackerel, salmon, and herring, as well as nuts and seeds like chia seeds, flax seeds, almonds, and walnuts. If eating fish isn't your thing, you can supplement with fish oil—the benefits are well worth it. Acupuncturist Elizabeth Trattner, AP, and certified Doctor of Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture with a private practice in Miami Beach, suggests at least 2000 mgs of two key kinds of omega 3s: DHA and EPA. "Make sure to read labels carefully as you can have high amounts of omega 3s, but not EPA and DHA," she says. "I like to see at least 650 mg of DHA and 1200 mg of EPA in an omega supplement." She also adds that, if you have an autoimmune or mood disorder or a cardiovascular issue, these amounts need to be much higher because clinical data suggest higher amounts for patients with these issues. Consult your healthcare practitioner regarding therapeutic doses. 
Vitamin B6 
Also known as pyridoxine, vitamin B6 plays an important role in a wide array of bodily functions, both physical and psychological. It's especially vital when it comes to nerve functioning, which is one of the reasons it's commonly associated with neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression. "B6 is highly involved in the metabolism of estrogens, so deficiency can be highly related to PMS and hormonal imbalance depression," explains Frick. "The birth control pill depletes B vitamins, especially B6, so supplementation is highly recommended for those taking the pill." She recommends a daily dose of 25 mg daily, though you may need more if you're on the pill.  

Vitamin B3 

Niacin, aka vitamin B3, is involved in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that enables brain cells and other nervous system cells to communicate. Too little serotonin has been linked to depression, and your body requires a healthy amount of vitamin B3 to maintain enough. In other words, a deficiency in B3 can impair levels of serotonin and negatively impact mood. Frick recommends a dose of 20mg daily for those dealing with depressive symptoms, though a higher dose may be needed, depending on your severity. "Niacin may cause flushing which some people find very uncomfortable, and may wish to use a non-flushing niacin format," she adds. 

Vitamin B12 

This vitamin has been known to boost mood and energy and reduce depression, explains Sally Warren, PhD ND, a naturopath at Metro Integrative Pharmacy, which is why many people with mood disorders such as depression are often deficient in it. (If you're looking for ways to ease depression, here are 16 science-backed strategies.) An estimated 15 percent of U.S. adults are vitamin B12 deficient, according to research published in Agricultural Research magazine. "Taking a good B-complex daily (at least 10 mg) can help with ensuring good levels are maintained, if the diet is less than desired, especially if following a vegan or vegetarian diet," she says. In terms of food sources, she says B12 is highest in beef liver, sardines, mackerel, lamb, eggs, feta cheese, and cottage cheese.


This necessary nutrient, which also goes by the name of folic acid or vitamin B9, helps the body in the creation of new cells. This is one of the reasons it's so important for pregnant women to get their fair share. In fact, pregnant women experiencing a vitamin B9 deficiency are at risk for delivering a baby with neural tube defects such as anencephaly and spina bifida. Additionally, a deficiency can cause depression. "Folic acid can help synthesize serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation," says Kerri Axelrod, an integrative nutrition health coach and yoga instructor. Additionally, research has found that many people suffering from depression consume low levels of folic acid, as well as vitamin B12. With your doctor's permission, aim for 400 mcg per day of folic acid, which is the recommended dosage from the National Institutes of Health.  


Magnesium helps with relaxation, muscle tension, constipation and more, and also plays a key role in the productions of brain hormones, explains Trattner. Still, almost half (48 percent) of U.S. adults consume less than the required amount of magnesium, according to research published in the journal Nutrition Reviews. Magnesium-rich foods include whole grains, dried beans, nuts and dark leafy greens, but you can also take a supplement of 320 to 450 mg daily, especially at night to help with insomnia, suggests Warren.  

Vitamin C 

Plenty of research has found a link between vitamin C and mood, as well as cognitive functioning, especially in the elderly. "Studies have shown a significant reduction in anxiety and depression when sufficient levels of C were taken, either by diet or supplements," says Warren. Since it's a water-soluble vitamin and not stored by the body, it must be taken regularly to ensure healthy levels are maintained. She recommends a minimum of 100 mg daily and no more than 2000 mg per day, since it can cause diarrhea.  Iron 
Some of the biggest signs of an iron deficiency are low energy, chronic fatigue, and mood changes. If these common symptoms sound familiar to you, you might be one of the almost 10 percent of women or 2 percent of men who suffer from a deficiency. "The RDA of iron is 18 mg for women of childbearing years and 25 mg for pregnant women, so I like to recommend a supplement that can be split in half or one that is around 9 mg taken twice a day," says Trattner. "By breaking up iron doses, it keeps bowels moving smoother and less likely to be constipated, which alone can cause depression." If iron supplements are not your thing, you can score the nutrient in liver, animal protein, spinach, lentils, some soy foods, and fortified foods, like cereal and milks.


Humans require a very small amount of this metallic element, though anywhere from 25 to 50 percent of U.S. adults are mildly deficient in it. "Chromium helps balance our blood sugar level which, in turn, stabilizes our mood," explains Trattner. "It also helps regulate serotonin, melatonin and other brain chemicals." If you're consuming chromium in a supplement she recommends 200 mcg, however, it can also be found in animal protein and potatoes.


This superstar amino acid that's found in green tea has been known to increase serotonin levels and boost alpha waves in the brain, explains Trattner. The easiest way she recommends getting a healthy dose is by drinking matcha, the purest form of green tea known for its high levels of antioxidants and other amazing benefits. "Matcha has one of the highest ORAC ratings I the plant kingdom and is a whole vegetal drink as opposed to green tea which is fermented leaves," she says. "One cup of good organic matcha can have you feeling great immediately." If you have a caffeine sensitivity, avoid matcha and drink decaffeinated green tea instead.

Saint John's wort 

According to Daniel Kellman, ND, Director of Naturopathic Medicine and Rehabilitation Services at Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton, North Carolina, St. John's Wort is one of the most popular natural antidepressants. "Its mechanism mirrors the action of pharmaceutical antidepressants like SSRI's (think Prozac and Paxil) and some evidence shows it to be effective, while other studies don't show benefit," he says. "While St. John's Wort may be effective in some individuals, it also can have similar side effects of conventional drug therapy." It can, however, cause issues when taken in conjunction with blood thinners, cholesterol medicines, and many other prescription drugs, so be sure to speak to your physician before taking. 

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