Depression is one of the leading health problems in the world and its impact on our health and quality of life is enormous. The world is in desperate need of a new approach to prevent and treat depression.
Unhealthy diet characterized by high intake of processed meat, desserts, snacks packed with sugar and artificially sweetened drinks, has never been a bigger research field for scientist.
A growing body of evidence suggest an interlink between nutrition and depression. That’s why it’s important to understand that what we eat can have a significant impact on our mood.
The lack of essential nutrients that our brain uses to balance its chemistry may lead to depression.
Scientists believe that reduced levels of the neurotransmitter called serotonin is the main cause of depression. Serotonin is an important compound for mood regulation and is nourished by the nutrients we consume.
The following are the three nutrients that play the biggest role in improving our mood.
Omega 3 essential fatty acids
Our brain is 60% fat and there are 2 types of fats that our body can not make to support the brain’s health: omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. That is why including omega 3 rich foods in our diet is crucial.
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.
Omega 3 essential fatty acids are primarily found in fish such as wild Alaskan salmon sardines or tuna. Three to four servings of wild Alaskan salmon weekly should help you get the optimal amount of omega 3 fatty acids. Enough for our brain to start producing serotonin and anti-inflammatory hormones.
If you are vegan or vegetarian, then you will be pleased to know that there are alternatives — in the form of organic supplements — that you can purchase online.
Another quality and vegan source of omega 3 fatty acids is flax seed. One table spoon of ground flax seed or one tea spoon of flax oil should meet the daily necessary amount of omega 3 in our body.
Folate as an alternative depression treatment
Folate and Folic acid belong to the vitamin B group, also known as vitamin B9. It is a central nutrient in aiding many essential processes such as the production of red blood cells and DNA protection.
Folate also helps with vitamin B12 absorption, stress and depression, fighting heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Norwegian researchers found that the lack of folic acid and vitamin B12 in our diet could cause depression. Consumption of folic acid helps regulate serotonin levels, making people achieve inner balance and feel happier.
The German Nutrition Society recommends a daily dose of 300 micrograms of folic acid, which is the equivalent of 25 g of yeast flakes, 600 g wheat or 250 g parsley.
When taken in combination with vitamin B12, the effects could be even greater.
Other folate rich foods:
- 100 g Beets contain 80 mcg of folate
- 100 g Brussels sprouts contain 61 mcg of folate
- 100 g Rice contain 58 mcg of folate
- 100 g Peanuts contain 120 mcg of folate
- 100 g Broccoli contain 63 mcg of folate
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 tranquilizing effect. And there are a lot of studies that can prove that. [one, two, three]
The most alarming facts of all is that 3 in 4 people have magnesium deficiency and don’t even know it. Some of the magnesium deficiency symptoms are: headaches, muscle spasms, insomnia, anxiety, constipation and low energy levels.
That’s why it’s important to load up on these magnesium rich foods:
- 1 cup Spinach contain 157 mg magnesium
- 1 cup Chard contain 154 mg magnesium
- 1/8 cup Pumpkin seeds contain 92 mg magnesium
- 1 square Dark Chocolate contain 95 mg magnesium
- 1 ounce Almonds contain 80 mg magnesium
- ½ cup Black Beans contain 60 mg magnesium
- 1 medium Avocado contain 58 mg magnesium
- 1 cup Yogurt contain 50 mg magnesium
The recommended dose for men is RDA 400 milligrams and women RDA 310 milligrams a day.