What Role Does Nutrition Play In Depression?


For non-clinical, mild forms of depression diet can often play an overlooked role in the way that you feel. A brain that is suffering through various vitamin deficiencies may not function as well and lead to problems down the line. Diet can also be addressed in clinical diagnoses, but as an ancillary benefit to support whatever coarse of primary treatment is prescribed. Correcting and improving your diet can help rectify your bodys nutritional needs and help restore balance in the body. Vitamin deficiency and mental health are often linked, so it is an important area to investigate. Here are 10 nutrients that are most commonly associated with depression and other mental disorders.

1. Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiencies is not only linked to depression, but also to dementia and autism. As according to the National Institutes of Health, the adult body needs about 600 IUs of vitamin D per day, the easiest time for you to become vitamin D deficient is during the winter and fall months when there is minimal sunlight. However for maximum mental health, you will need somewhere between 5,000 to 10,000 IU of vitamin D.

So if you work for long hours in the offices, there is a chance of your suffering from vitamin D deficiency. Take some time to go out into the sun and take a walk during lunch break. While you need to get into the sunshine, dont overdo it as if you are sensitive to the sun, too much of sun is also not good for you!

2. Amino acids

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and have an important role in maintaining the proper functioning of your brain. If your diet does not contain sufficient amino acids, you will slowly start feeling unfocused, sluggish and depressed with life. The best thing you should do to is increase your consumption of seeds, beans, red meats and nuts to get sufficient amino acids in your body.

3. Iodine

Iodine is necessary and important for the optimal functioning of your thyroid gland. Though the thyroid gland is a small gland, its affects practically all body systems like your body temperature, metabolism, immune system, energy level, brain functioning and much more. So if your iodine consumption is on the lower side, your thyroid does not function as well as it should and this leads to various complications including feelings of depression.

4. B Vitamins

It was proven through studies that older women suffering from severe depression have a tendency of suffering from a deficiency of B complex vitamins. So the study proves that B complex vitamins are very much important and necessary for your mental health than you envisioned.

This is why its suggested that your diet includes 2.4mcg of B12 and 1.5-1.7 mg of B6 which you can get through foods like milk, fish, meat, poultry, eggs and seafood like crab, mussels and clams.

5. Folate

If you have a low level of folate, it seriously reduces the efficiency of antidepressants. In fact, this is why some psychiatrists prescribe folate to treat depression. Adults require a minimum of 400mcg folate everyday which you can get by eating lots of dark, green leafy vegetables, legumes, beans and citrus fruits and juices.

6. Magnesium

Many people today unknowingly suffer from a deficiency of magnesium because they consume too much of sugar, caffeine, salt and alcohol, and have too much of stress. All of this contributes to the bodys depletion of magnesium stores.

This is why magnesium is an efficient mineral to consume to fight the harmful effects of constant stress. While men need about 400 to 420 mg of magnesium every day, women require between 310 and 320 mg.

7. Iron

On an average, about 20% of women suffer from iron deficiency which leads to symptoms similar to depression like an inability to focus, fatigue and irritability. So make sure you consume about 8 to 18 mg of iron every day.

8. Selenium

Selenium is an important mineral which is required for thyroid function. It is also an important antioxidant which helps prevent the oxidation of the polyunsaturated acids found on the cell membrane. Generally, an adult body requires at least 55 mcg of selenium to remain physically and mentally healthy.

9. Omega-3

You always thought, and heard that omega-3 fatty acids was important and required for a healthy heart. However did you also know that omega-3 also has a serious impact on your mental health? In fact, your body doesnt get sufficient omega-3s through your diet even if you took a daily fish oil supplement.

Moreover, your body does not manufacture or process omega-3 fatty acids on its own. You thus need to consume foods containing omega-3 fatty acids like tuna, salmon, halibut or walnuts and flaxseeds, and also take some supplements to ensure your body gets the required nutrients.

10. Zinc

Zinc too is a mineral needed for the optimal functioning of all your body systems. The mineral not only helps with digestion, it also helps your body produce DNA and helps with the repair of proteins. Moreover, zinc helps boost your bodys immunity and controls any inflammation in the body.

How To Increase Your Nutrient Intake

So in a nutshell, if your diet was always full of junk food, processed foods, sodas and sugar, or if you skip meals and notice you suffer from depression and mood disorders, its time you start a food diary about all the food you eat every day. Starting on a healthy diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables is a prudent way to address vitamin deficiencies, while eating fresh fish is a great way to get more Omega-3 fatty acids.

Your nutrient intake can also benefit with the help of a juicer as freshly prepared juice from raw produce is more easily digestible and absorbed by the body. But juicing does take some commitment at first until it becomes habit. The best juicer on the market will not do you any good unless you use it on a regular basis. One way to achieve this is to experiment with different juicing recipes and find a few that you really find tasty. This will help prevent boredom with the routine and make you excited to try something new every day.

It still will take some time for the body to adjust, but it eventually can have a huge impact on the your overall well being. Of course, you should always speak with a physician before making any major changes for their approval.