If you are suffering from mental health issues like anxiety, depression and brain fog, it may be because there are certain nutrient deficiencies in your body. This could be due to a poor diet, digestion issues, hormonal imbalances or various health conditions. Here are some key nutrients and their food sources to include in your diet to support your mood, helping to improve your overall mental wellbeing, be more resilient to stress and feel more like ‘you’ again.
B vitamins play an important role in our mental and emotional wellbeing as well as their ability for converting other nutrients into energy, supporting nerve function and maintaining a healthy metabolism to just name a few. There are eight B vitamins altogether which although have similar roles, each has its own unique properties. Studies have shown that deficiency in B vitamins could been linked to depression. The B vitamins are also water soluble therefore they cannot be stored in the body so it is important we replenish our stores through our diet.
Food sources include: beans, lentils, chickpeas, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, wholegrains, meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs.
This ‘sunshine vitamin’ has many essential functions in the body including playing an important role in mental health with studies have linked low levels with depression. The best way to absorb vitamin D is through sunlight and taking a supplement but there are some vitamin D rich foods.
Food sources: oily fish, egg yolks, mushrooms and fortified foods.
Magnesium carries out hundreds of essential functions in the body. With regard to brain function, it can regulate the neurotransmitters which play a role in depression, anxiety and cognitive ability. For example, magnesium can stimulate GABA, a neurotransmitter which helps us relax and can alleviate anxiety. It also plays an important role with helping to manage our stress response, which can be a mediator for depression and anxiety. Studies have shown that magnesium supplementation significantly reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression
Food sources include: leafy greens, avocado, dark chocolate, legumes, wholegrains, nuts and seeds.
Essential Fatty Acids
EPA and DPA are omega 3 fatty acids play a vital anti-inflammatory role and can lower the risk for depression, anxiety and improve cognitive function. They are essential as we cannot produce them on our own therefore must obtain them through our diet. These essential fats are the ‘building blocks’ of the brain and vital for brain signally so you can understand why including these in our diet will support our mental and emotional wellbeing. Stress is often the cause of poor mental health; it is a source of inflammation for the body sending out an army of pro inflammatory messages causing further disruption to both mental and physical wellbeing.
Food sources: oily fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herrings), walnuts, chia and flaxseeds.
A powerful antioxidant which plays an important role in the functioning of our nervous system. It can regulate neurotransmitters which will help stabilise our mood and improve our emotional wellbeing. Our adrenal glands which control our bodies stress response also require vitamin C to function properly. Stress depletes vitamin C so ensuring we have enough is essential, especially as stress if often a key mediator for low mood and anxiety.
Food sources: fruit and vegetables, in particular - peppers, strawberries, kiwi, broccoli, oranges, blackcurrant and kale.
You may also be interested in finding out more about my 'Food to Improve Your Mood' course on the 13th August - find out more HERE