There is a significant impact of the lifestyle choices on mental health including anxiety, depression, Seasonal Affect Disorder and also bipolar disease. What we consume has a direct effect on the structure of our brain and which in turn influences the brain’s function. There are many psychiatrists who fail to appreciate the role of nutrition in mental health as medication alone can’t make up for a bad diet.
Physical health needs to be addressed for better mental health results other than just therapy, medication or both. Improving the diet and consuming targeted supplements helps the possibility of reducing or eliminating medication use and helps improve your mood. A lack of appropriate results in and aggravates mood disorders like depression.
Let’s take a look at the important nutrients crucial for mental health.
Omega 3 fats
It is vital for the brain cell structure and if you don’t have enough of it in your diet other fats may take its place like trans fat which means trouble. Omega 3 fat EPA helps in neuron function and reduces inflammation as a result plays a great role in reducing the symptoms of depression as well as other mood disorders. Food sources of omega 3 fats are fatty fish, supplements, and omega 3 fortified eggs.
It is important for a healthy thyroid which is the master of metabolism. Good food sources of iodine include seaweed, cod and iodized salt and moderate sources are milk, yogurt, and eggs.
It is essential for neurotransmitter production and function. Zinc is also crucial for healthy digestion and strong immune system and the good sources are oysters, crab, lamb, chicken, cashews, legumes and a good quality multivitamin.
Magnesium is needed to activate the enzymes required for serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine production. The food sources are nuts and seeds, whole grains, bran, dark chocolate and dark green vegetables.
The brain loves Vitamin D and the deficiency is not just linked to depression but anxiety, dementia and SAD. A few food sources are oil/fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and eggs.
Selenium is needed for good thyroid function and a healthy thyroid supports mental health and reduces the risk of depression. It helps develop the master antioxidant and detoxifying compound glutathione. And increasing the glutathione levels can reduce depression as it reduces inflammation in the brain.
Women commonly face iron deficiency due to losses via menstruation. The most common form of anemia is an iron deficiency with similar symptoms to depression such as fatigue, apathy, brain fog, irritability, lack of motivation and appetite. Iron-rich foods eaten with vitamin C rich foods will help increase the absorption of iron. The food sources include lamb, dark meat, eggs, chicken, liver, oysters and white beans.
All of 11 B vitamins are involved in Neurotransmitter production and function. It helps maintain brain mass, reduce depression, lower the levels of homocysteine which is a by-product of protein metabolism and the increase may cause depression. B vitamins can be found in whole grains, nuts, and seeds meat and dark green veggies.
The deficiency of Vitamin C can cause depression. There’s almost 20% of population deficient in vitamin C due to their diet as well as gene mutation which doesn’t allow to absorb and metabolize vitamins. The vitamin C sources are citrus, kiwi, strawberries and bell peppers.