New research suggests that several food-derived supplements may increase the effectiveness of certain antidepressants, but supplements alone might even do the trick - to lessen anxiety, mood swings, and depression in general.
One in 20 Americans struggles with depression, and numbers are rising elsewhere in the world as well. The World Health Organization reports that 1 on 4 people will struggle with some form of mental illness or neurodegenerative disease in their lifetime, but new studies offer some inspiring news.
There are 7 supplements (among hundreds) that are scientifically documented to improve mental health.
We can lessen the effects of brain inflammation and toxicity, which thereby improves our mood, boosts cognitive performance, and even keeps depression at bay.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D neuron receptors in regions of the brain implicated in the regulation of behavior. They also stimulate the release of neurotrophin, a hormone which protects the brain by buffering antioxidant and anti-inflammatory defenses against vascular injury.
You can get more Vitamin D by simply spending time outdoors in the sun, eating more fish oils, or taking a supplement.
- L-Theanine (Theanine)
An amino acid found in green tea, theanine has long been known to trigger the release of gamma-aminobutyric acid, orGABA in the brain. This is an important neurochemical which crosses the blood-brain barrier, and increases the “feel-good” hormone,serotonin. It also lowers cortisol levels, one of the biggest indicators of stress in the body.
A single cup of green tea contains around 25 mg of L-theanine – so drink up! You can also find quality supplements that contain theanine.
The Amino acid 5-hydroxytryptophan, or 5-HTP, is a chemical the body makes from tryptophan, an essential amino acid that you may recognize from eating Thanksgiving turkey, as it tends to be sedative, and calming.
As a supplement, 5-HTP is made from the seeds of an African plant called Griffonia simplicifolia.
It is possible that 5-HTP works more effectively than commonly prescribed anti-depressants like Zoloft or Prozac, by simply increasing the amount of serotonin created in the brain.
It also happens to help those who suffer from fibromyalgia, and many other health issues associated with chronic inflammation.
- Fish Oil
It’s no exaggeration to say that the quality of your brain functioning depends on the availability of omega-3s.
Omega-3s are an integral structural component of brain cell membranes and nerve cells. Without it, people tend to suffer from depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s and many other neurodegenerative processes.
You can find Omega-3s, found in quality supplements, but also in fatty fish like cod, or sea bass, tuna, etc. You need to look out for high mercury levels, PCBs, and radioactive substances though due to the state of the world’s oceans.
- B-Complex Vitamins
What does a deficiency in the all-important B-complex Vitamins do to your mental health? The list is so long, we may as well just lay it all out there:
- Vitamin B (thiamine): Deficiencies trigger depression and irritability. They can also cause neurological and cardiac disorders among alcoholics.
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): Has been used to treat patients in psychiatric wards successfully
- Vitamin B3 (niacin): Without it you’ll suffer from anxiety, depression, apprehension, and fatigue.
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): Symptoms of deficiency are fatigue, chronic stress, and depression.
- Vitamin B5 is needed for hormone formation and the uptake of amino acids and the brain chemical acetylcholine, which combine to prevent certain types of depression.
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): Deficiency can disrupt formation of neurotransmitters.
- Vitamin B6 is a coenzyme needed for conversion of tryptophan to serotonin and phenylalanine and tyrosine to norepinephrine.
- Vitamin B12: Also known as Folic acid can cause depression if you aren’t getting enough.
- Vitamin C
Many people are already aware of Vitamin C as a great cure-all for things like the common cold, but did you know that it is neuroprotective too?
Vitamin C works with enzymes called dopamine-beta-hyrodylase to convert dopamine into norepinephrine – a neurochemical that helps us feel good.
Vitamin C also works better than a placebo at lowering stress! This means it can help stop depression before it starts, since a depressed state is linked directly to our stress levels.
You can add Vitamin-C rich foods like citrus fruits, goji berries and even leafy greens, or simply take a supplement. Between 75 and 90 mg of Vitamin C are suggested per day.
The adaptogenic, cardiopulmonary protective, and central nervous system activities of Rhodiola rosea have been attributed primarily to its ability to influence levels and activity of monoamines and opioid peptides such as beta-endorphins.
In plain English – it is an adaptogenic herb which shows great promise for treating depression.
It’s been used for centuries for that very purpose, so you can add it to your other six food-grade supplements, in order to balance your mood, lower anxiety, and lessen depression.
While some claim the anti-depressant industry makes drugs that are little more effective than a sugar pill, there are natural, non-side-effect-forming supplements and foods which you can take to heal the root causes of depression and anxiety in your body.
Whether you decide to take these to augment a drug regime that you are already on or to slowly try to replace them with the oversight of a doctor is up to you, but the latest science proves just seven ingredients can make a huge difference in how you wake up and face the day.
Say bye-bye to depression and hello to better health!