If you are struggling with anxiety and/or depression and are trying to regain control of your life in a healthy, natural way, this is the blog post for you. There are a number of vitamins that can be taken in supplement form or that can be found in everyday foods, which are proven to help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.
When I was first diagnosed with anxiety and depression, my parents did not want me to go on a synthetic antidepressant so alternatively, they had me see a naturopathic physician. The doctor I saw suggested a number of supplements for me to start taking daily that would relieve some of my symptoms, most of which were the ones I’m about to discuss. After incorporating more of these vitamins into my diet, I did noticed some improvements in my mental state and overall mood. For this reason, I thought it would be valuable to share with you what I’ve been informed of by my doctor and what I learned through further research of my own.
Below is a compilation of 14 vitamins that you may find important to start incorporating into your diet regularly, many of which could be found in a hearty salad!
1 – Omega-3 Fatty Acids
There are actually three distinct kinds of omega-3’s and they are alphalinolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). However, the latter is what really helps with depression due to its neurological benefits. For further information, you can read up on this research study. You can get EPA by taking fish oil pills, or eating wild-caught seafood like salmon or sardines.
2 – Probiotics
Since there is a direct connection between the gut and the brain, it is important to keep your intestines in good health. The nerve cells located in our gut are surprisingly responsible for the majority of our serotonin production, not our brain. Therefore, taking probiotic supplements can ensure better mental health. You can also consume more yogurt, kefir, and kombucha, which naturally contains probiotics, or eat foods containing prebiotics that promote healthy bacteria growth such as sauerkraut, artichokes, and asparagus.
3 – Vitamin B-6
This kind of vitamin, also known as pyridoxine, supports effective brain functioning, can boost your mood, and helps to calm your nervous system. Some foods you can consume that are rich in vitamin B-6 include avocados, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, poultry, tuna, pistachios, sunflower seeds, and non-citrus fruits like bananas.
4 – Vitamin B-12
This is another type of B vitamin that has a positive effect on mental health, as B-12 deficiency has been linked to depression. In a controlled trial, Vitamin B-12 was shown to help improve depressive symptoms. Eggs, milk, cheese, shellfish, and liver are foods that are a great source of this vitamin.
5 – SAM-e (S-adenosylmethionine)
This is actually something we produce in our bodies when adenosyl-triphosphate (ATP) combines with the amino acid methionine. This compound contributes to the synthesis of hormones and after some research, it has been found to be an effective depression treatment. It is now available over the counter as a dietary supplement. However, you can get methionine from foods like fish, poultry, and tofu, and can get ATP from meat, nuts, fruits and vegetables.
6 – Tumeric
This Chinese and Indian spice has been used for thousands of years for its healing power. Curcumin, which is a bioactive compound found in tumeric, has many medical benefits including helping to increase mood, control anxiety, and increase the production of the two main neurotransmitters that are connected to depression – serotonin and dopamine. The tumeric spice could be added to foods, most popularly curry, or taken in supplement form, just as curcumin can be as well.
7 – Vitamin D
Vitamin D is most commonly obtained through exposure to sunlight but can also be found in a few foods or as a supplement. A deficiency of this essential vitamin can exacerbate depression, as reported in this neuropsychiatry article. Although food isn’t a great source of vitamin D, you can eat things like fatty fishes and egg yolk, or drink orange juice and milk fortified with vitamin D.
8 – Vitamin C
Vitamin C is known for its ability to strengthen the immune system but what many don’t know is it can also alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. As a result, maintaining the recommended level of vitamin C in your body can help improve your symptoms. The most common source of this vitamin is orange juice but you can also get it from guava, papaya, broccoli, carrots, brussels sprouts, peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, and many other leafy greens.
9 – Amino Acids
Amino acids are the building block of protein and they play a significant role in neurotransmitter synthesis as well. More specifically, the amino acid tyrosine is responsible for making dopamine, and the amino acid tryptophan is responsible for serotonin. They have been shown to aid in sleep, mood, and performance. For more information, you can read this detailed article on their significance. Amino acids are something our bodies can’t manufacture on our own, therefore it is important to eat foods rich in the eight essential amino acids or take them as a dietary supplement. Some foods include milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, quinoa, and soy products.
10 – Magnesium
This mineral counteracts stress and promotes relaxation, among many other benefits. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to both anxiety and depression. Therefore, it is critical that you maintain a good level in your body, as magnesium gets used up quickly when fighting stress. Some foods to incorporate into your diet more that contain magnesium are whole wheat, spinach, almonds, cashews, beans, avocados, edamame, and halibut.
11 – GABA
This is a neurotransmitter responsible for sending inhibitory messages between the nervous system and the brain, meaning it helps reduce anxiety by calming the nerves. Many anti-anxiety medications actually work by effecting the GABA pathways. GABA can be found as a supplement or you can eat foods like brown rice, walnuts, broccoli, hummus, cherry tomatoes, bananas, and oranges, which all help to produce GABA.
12 – 5-HTP
This is an amino acid in which your body manufactures naturally. If you suffer from anxiety and/or depression, 5-htp has been shown to help with these symptoms by boosting serotonin levels. Although it isn’t found in food, it is produced from the amino acid tryptophan, which is a component of high-protein animal foods like poultry, meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy.
13 – Calcium
It has been found that Calcium has an effect on mental health, and possessing high levels of it helps to regulate our mood, in turn relieving symptoms of depression and stress/anxiety. You can take calcium vitamins, drink lots of milk, or eat foods rich in calcium like kale, sardines, yogurt, cheese, and lentils.
14 – Melatonin
This hormone produced by the pineal gland located in the brain helps to regulate our sleep-wake cycle. Things like caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco can lower the levels of melatonin in your body so if you consume any of these regularly, your body may not be producing enough melatonin for your present circumstances. Also, if you suffer from insomnia, it may be a good idea to take a melatonin supplement before bed to help you fall asleep faster. Alternately, you can eat foods that naturally contain melatonin like tart cherries, corn, asparagus, tomatoes, pomegranate, olives, and grapes.
There is no better time than now to start living healthy – mind, body, and spirit!
∼Taylor ♥ xoxo