Did you know — what you eat affects not only your physical health, but your mental and emotional health
(such as causing depression), as well. That’s why experts, such as psychiatrist Drew Ramset, MD, suggest patients make food their medicine — just like Hippocrates, the “father of modern medicine,” recommended.
Said Ramset, an assistant clinical professor at Columbia University: “Traditionally, we haven’t been trained to ask about food and nutrition. But diet is potentially the most powerful intervention we have. By helping people shape their diets, we can improve their mental health and decrease their risk of psychiatric disorders.”
Deficiencies in the B vitamins, folate, or vitamin D, for instance, can increase a person’s genetic predisposition to develop mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety. Fortunately, it is possible to get all of the essential nutrients needed by eating organic, whole foods.
Following are 10 nutritional deficiencies that can lead to depression:
1) B-Complex Vitamins
There are 9 different B vitamins that work together to provide the body with energy, reduce stress, and repair damage at a cellular level. When one is deficient in B vitamins, they may be more prone to developing mood disorders, including depression.
If your diet is lacking B vitamins, consume more leafy, green vegetables, root vegetables, nuts and beets.
Once upon a time, magnesium was abundant in soil. But due to modern agricultural methods, nearly everyone is now deficient in magnesium.
The mineral has the ability to relax both the body and mind. Magnesium-rich foods include seaweed, beans, and dark leafy greens. Sufficient levels of magnesium will help you deal with stress and, thus, reduce the likelihood of becoming irritable, depressed, or experience headaches.
As Awareness Act points out, coffee, soda, and alcohol — as well as excess salt or sugar in one’s diet — can reduce the amount of magnesium in the body. So, if you are lacking magnesium, it is best to cut out (or drastically reduce the consumption) of these foods.
3) Omega-3 Fatty Acids
When there is an imbalance between the Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids in the body, one’s physical, emotional, and mental health will be impacted. In a series of epidemiological studies, scientists discovered that there is a correlation between a low dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids and an increased risk of depression.
You can find Omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish (such as salmon), flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, beans, seaweed, and leafy greens.
4) Chromium, Zinc, and Iron
Though the human body can produce vitamins, it is unable to produce minerals that are needed for overall health and well-being. This is why it is important to eat foods that are rich in minerals such as zinc, folate, chromium and iron.
These minerals are beneficial to those suffering from various mental health conditions, including anxiety, schizophrenia, depression, eating disorders, and the early subset of alcoholism. Obtain these minerals from colored vegetables, fresh fruits, and whole grains.
5) Folate (Vitamin B9)
Folate is a B vitamin, but it deserves specific mention because it is closely connected with the development of depression, according to experts. The vitamin is responsible not only for the formation of red blood cells, but cell growth and division, protein metabolism, and the prevention of neural tube defects.
Deficiencies in folate can lead to health problems including increased risk of major depressive disorder (MDD). You can supplement with folate, or consume more leafy greens, garbanzo beans, avocado, asparagus, and beets.
6) Vitamin D
The best source of this nutrient is from the sun, but few people spend enough time outside. This is why deficiencies are so common nowadays.
A lack of vitamin D can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a condition that manifests similarly to depression. In fact, a study published in 2010 took into account more than 1,200 participants and tested their vitamin D levels. The researchers discovered that there is a connection between low vitamin D levels and depression (as well as panic disorders).
You can supplement with vitamin D3, or you can eat more bee pollen, chlorella, spirulina, fortified nut milk, and wild mushrooms to boost your vitamin D levels naturally.
Iodine supports a healthy thyroid, but it also contributes to overall well-being. Most people get iodine through iodized table salt. However, this doesn’t ensure sufficient iodine levels. In fact, approximately 74% of normal, ‘healthy’ adults are not consuming enough iodine each day.
When one is deficient in iodine, the thyroid will be affected. This gland is responsible for regulating body temperature, immune function, and overall brain performance. Deficiencies can lead to an increased risk of fibromyalgia, depression, and cognitive impairments.
Seaweed, organic yogurt, navy beans, and cranberries are decent sources of iodine.
If you suffer from depression, you may have low selenium levels. Like iodine, this nutrient promotes good thyroid function. As a result, low levels may lead to the development of mental health conditions, including depression.
According to one study, a deficiency in selenium can increase your risk of depression — but so can levels that are too high. Reliable sources of this nutrient include canned fish, brazil nuts, poultry, eggs, and seeds.
9) Amino Acid Deficiency
The body requires a total of 12 different amino acids to work efficiently. When one does not consume enough protein, or has low stomach acid and, therefore, cannot digest proteins adequately, a deficiency of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) can result.
This study suggests a deficiency in amino acids can lead to brain fog, an inability to focus, sluggishness, and depression. To get the right balance of amino acids, eat more nuts, seeds, beans, and bee pollen.
10) Poor Eating Habits
High-sugar, high-fat foods — commonly consumed in “Western” countries, such as Britain, Australia, and the United States — lead to nutrient deficiencies because they are highly processed and contain few nutrients.
Science supports this notion. Several studies have concluded that people who eat a poor-quality diet have a higher risk for depression. It is best to adopt a colorful, whole food, and organic diet to meet your dietary needs and combat depression naturally.
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