7 Secret Nutrients That Help Relieve Depression and Make You Feel Good

Depression is a common mood disorder exhibiting persistent feelings of lack of interest, deep sadness or loneliness. Depression affects not only behavior but also predisposes one to a variety of physical health conditions. Depression is not just about feeling down for a day but is often tough to snap out without proper care.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling sad, empty or lonely
  • Getting upset, angry or irritable even over trivial matters
  • No interest in normal day to day activities
  • Sleeping too much or unable to sleep
  • Feeling overtired
  • Have difficulty concentrating, speaking or having slow body movements
  • Feeling guilty about past failures or blaming one’s self for things that others did
  • Frequent thoughts about suicide or attempting suicide

The cause of depression

Most people with depression have moderate to severe symptoms that may interfere with work, school, and home life. Some sulk or feel miserable all day. No one really knows what causes depression. It is believed that a combination of genetic factors, environmental factors, and brain chemistry may be involved. Depression may run in families.


Depression is a mental health disorder which, if left untreated, may lead to the following complications:

  • Excess body weight
  • Continuous pain and suffering
  • Substance or alcohol abuse
  • Phobia, anxiety or panic attacks
  • Difficulties in interpersonal and professional relationships
  • Social isolation
  • Self-injury
  • Suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts
  • Premature death


Once the diagnosis of depression is made, the conventional treatment revolves around prescription medications. Doctors may prescribe antidepressants. However, what works for one person may not work for another so it may take the time to find what works best, and over time, the effectiveness of antidepressants may wear off. Furthermore, antidepressant medications may be costly and have numerous adverse side effects. On the other hand, it is important to mention that anti-depressants may be life-saving.

There are some people with depression who do not respond to medications, and they may try electroconvulsive therapy. This treatment does not cure depression and repeat treatments are required as maintenance therapy.

Other therapies

Despite newer anti-depressant medications, depression still is hard to treat with drugs, and some individuals turn to natural therapy. Many forms of psychotherapy are currently used to help depressed individuals. These types of therapy may include talking or cognitive and behavioral modification. These treatments are designed to help the individual resolve conflicts, regain confidence and help to unlearn patterns of behavior that contribute to depression.

Nutrition for Depression

Over the years it has become evident to me that there is an association between nutritional deficiencies and some mental health disorders. I strongly advocate nutrition to help manage depression as a complementary therapy.

Many people with depression may suffer from a nutritional deficiency even if they eat plenty of food with plenty of calories. It is the types of foods we eat and our lifestyle habits that matter. People who are rigid in their eating habits or follow very low carbohydrate diet or a very high protein diet may be at risk for developing symptoms of depression, because serotonin, a brain neurotransmitter which is synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan is involved in modulating depression, is obtained from carbohydrate-rich foods. Almost all anti-depressant drugs work by increasing uptake of serotonin.

In general, foods such as refined carbohydrates (simple sugars, chocolates) provide immediate but temporary mood uplift. These foods are low in nutrients and actually reduce mineral stores to allow for their metabolism. Instead, it is important to eat complex carbohydrates such as wholegrain cereals, pasta, rice, etc. Although, not as appetizing as chocolates, they are more likely to have a prolonged mood-elevating benefit due to the positive association between tryptophan-rich food consumption and mental health. The mental health state may be improved by increasing the dietary intake of tryptophan. However, foods rich in tryptophan are not enough to reduce depression. Tryptophan is the least abundant amino acid and therefore, in a protein-rich meal, tryptophan is the last amino acid to cross the blood-brain barrier. It has to wait its turn after the more common amino acids. On the other hand, evidence suggests that eating a whole grain carbohydrate-rich meal with sufficient protein will increase the tryptophan available to the brain because when carbohydrate-rich foods are consumed, the body releases insulin, which diverts other amino acids to the muscles but leaves tryptophan untouched. This provides a better ground for tryptophan to enter the brain and promote its effect on the brain. Tryptophan-rich foods include Spirulina, chia seeds, sesame seeds, watermelon seeds, flax seeds, cashews, pistachios, almonds, and soya beans.


Evidence has shown that the production of brain chemicals which play a role in mood is dependent on the presence of essential vitamins. Deficiency of some vitamins is known to prevent the synthesis of these brain chemicals. Also, some medications also interfere with vitamin functions in the body.

    1. Vitamin B-12: Research shows that over than a quarter of severely depressed women were deficient in vitamin B-12. Vitamin B-12 is found in animal products (meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, shellfish). Vegans are recommended to consume B-12 sublingual tablets in the form of methyl-cobalamine In a weekly or bi-monthly intervals to prevent this deficiency.
    2. Vitamin B-9, also known as folic acid is also important for mood regulation. People with sufficient folic acid also respond better to antidepressant treatment. Most adults need at least 400 mcg daily. You can also get your daily folic acid requirements by consuming foods rich in folic acids such as uncooked dark leafy vegetables, beans, legumes, and citrus fruits.
    3. Vitamin D deficiency is very common in the western world. People are not getting enough sunlight or when they do; they have a sunscreen that does not allow the UV rays to penetrate the skin. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to depression, dementia, and even autism. Try to reveal a small part of your skin to direct sunlight at least 10 minutes a day. If this is impossible for you, take D3 supplements.


Mineral deficiencies are also closely linked to depression. Below are the most common mineral deficiencies associated with depression:

  1. Iron deficiency leads to anemia which affects about 20 percent of women, 50 percent of pregnant women, but only 3% of men. Its symptoms are similar to depression: fatigue, irritability, brain fog. Most adults should consume 8 to 18 mg of iron daily, depending on age, gender, and diet. Natural sources of iron include pumpkin seeds, soya beans, cashews, white beans, and lentils as well as green, dark leafy vegetables.
  2. Magnesium deficiency is common in 50% of all Americans. Lifestyles habits including too much phosphoric acid found in carbonated soft drinks, alcohol, salt, coffee, sugar, chronic stress, antibiotics, and diuretics all reduce magnesium levels. Magnesium participates in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body and helps us feel more relaxed. The recommended daily intake of magnesium is about 400 to 420 mg for adult men and 310 to 320 mg for adult women. Magnesium is found in abundance in the following foods: pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, sesame seeds, almonds, dark green leafy vegetables, soya beans, and brown rice.
  3. Iodine deficiency affects thyroid function which influences energy, metabolism, body temperature, growth, immune function, and brain function. When your thyroid gland is not functioning up to par, you can feel very depressed and lifeless or get very angry. You can get sufficient iodine by consuming mineral salt, seaweed or by taking a kelp food supplement twice a week.


  1. Polyunsaturated fatty acid deficiencies are also linked with depression: Omega 3 fatty acids play a critical role in brain function and mood. They are essential fatty acids, meaning that the body can’t produce them. We must intake these essential fatty acids from our diet. However, we do not need to consume them in their preformed EPA and DHA form. Our body converts the exact amount of EPA and DHA it needs from fatty acids found in chia seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts.


Exercise also affects mood. Although for someone suffering from one or more of the above nutrient deficiencies, exercise seems like a far fetched thing to be doing, once nutritional deficiencies are corrected, you can begin doing some kind of physical activity continuously for 30 minutes or more. Exercise has a major influence on mood through the production of euro peptides such as endorphins which make us feel good.


Other nutritional agents widely sold as a treatment for depression include chromium which influences blood sugar levels which also preventing brain fogginess. Trimethylglycine (TMG) and s-adenosylmethionine (SAM).


By eating a healthy diet with nutrient dense foods, and performing even basic physical activity on a regular basis, a significant improvement in depressive symptoms and mood may be achieved.

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