Nutrients to Protect Against Depression

An area of nutrition that I believe needs more attention  is the affect of certain vitamins and minerals in relation to individual cognition and emotional processing (aka our mental health). When we deprive our body of certain food groups or types of foods to increase our chance of weight loss, we may be harming our brains ability to work properly or efficiently resulting in emotional distress. A variety of nutrients and vitamins have shown correlation with a person’s feelings of balance, stability, happiness, and relaxation. After reviewing recent research, there is a definite connection between a lack of proper nutrition and the growing prevalence of depression in the general population. Below I have listed some of the vitamins and minerals that have proven benefits in relation to brain function and mental health. The sources listed below are examples and are not a full list of foods that contain the specified minerals and vitamins!
Nutrients to prevent against depression:

Folate (folic acid) and Vitamin B12:  (folate is also known as vitamin B9). Research studies show that a lack of folic acid in the diet could cause depression due to folic acid and Vitamin B12s ability to regulate certain neurotransmitters like serotonin (which helps people achieve inner balance and feel happier),  dopamine, and norepinephrine. Multiple case studies have been completed that show that symptoms of depression decreased significantly  when folic acid and vitamin B12 were included in the diets of those already dealing with depression.

 Sources of Folate:

  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Liver
  • Yeast Extract
  • Asparagus
  • Spinach

Some Sources of Vitamin B12:

  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Dairy Products

Magnesium is the most powerful relaxation mineral. It is responsible for over three hundred enzyme reactions. It helps with relaxing the muscles, reduces stress and the overall cellular function. So, if your depression is associated with anxiety, including magnesium in your diet can have a calming effect. Magnesium aids nerve and heart function, bone and teeth formation, and metabolism of carbohydrates and proteins


Some Sources of Magnesium:

  • Almonds –  one of my favorites
  • Avocados – another of my favorites
  • Bran Cereal
  • Beans
  • Nuts (variety)
  • Chocolate
  • Bananas

Omega-3’s: A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry revealed consumption of omega 3 fatty acids by patients diagnosed with depression significantly lowered their symptoms related to depression. EPA and DHA are types of Omega-3 fatty acids that are thought to act as antidepressants in the brain. In response to increasing rates of suicide in the military, researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently found that low blood levels of omega-3’s were widespread and raised suicide risk by as much as 62%. The study was published online in the August 2011 issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.


Some Sources of Omega-3’s:

  • Fish (and fish oil)
  • Flaxseed (and flaxseed oil)
  • Soybean Oil (and other vegetable oils)
  • Seeds
  • Edamame
  • Winter Squash
  • Wheat Germ

Vitamin D: Vitamin D may affect the function of dopamine and norepinephrine, which are monoamine neurotransmitters that are likely involved in depression.  In cross-sectional analysis that used baseline data, women with the highest intake of vitamin D and vitamin D from food sources had a significantly lower prevalence of depressive symptoms. . . In women without depressive symptoms at baseline, a higher vitamin D intake from food as associated with a lower risk of depression at year 3.


Some Sources of Vitamin D:

  • Orange Juice
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Pork

So in simple terms, eat up to keep yourselves in a better mood – your husband or significant other will most likely thank me 🙂





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