Certain vitamins, along with other nutrients, help the body maintain important mood-regulating functions. Deficiency in any one of these vitamins can contribute to mood swings, anxiety and depression. Although vitamin supplementation may not stabilize all mood fluctuations, it may provide some relief. Eating foods rich in mood-supporting vitamins is another option.
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This group includes all the B vitamins as well as folic acid. Vitamin B12 and folic acid are particularly important because they allow the liver to produce S-adenosyl-l-methionine or SAMe. This compound helps regulate mood. Vitamin B6, which influences production of the mood controlling neurotransmitters serotonin and GABA, is also critical for stable moods. Grains, beans and cruciferous vegetables are good sources of many B vitamins, but B complex vitamin tablets are also available.
Important for bone and immune system health, vitamin D can also affect mood. Low vitamin D levels are associated with mood disorders like depression, premenstrual syndrome and seasonal affective disorder in women, report researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina, who reviewed four related studies in 2008. The body needs sun exposure to make vitamin D, but you can also get this vitamin from oily fish like cod and mackerel; eggs; vitamin D fortified cereal; and milk.
Problems with the body’s cell-protective antioxidant defenses can contribute to depression. Because vitamin E is one of the body’s most important antioxidants, deficiency in this nutrient is a particular risk. Major depression appears to accompany low blood levels of vitamin E, suggest findings from a 2000 study from the Clinical Research Center for Mental Health in Antwerp, Belgium. Foods rich in this fat-soluble vitamin include olive oil, avocados, and many nuts and seeds.
Although better known for supporting the immune system, vitamin C can also help the body cope with stress and anxiety. Study participants taking high-doses of vitamin C for 14 days reported feeling less depressed, discovered researchers from the University of Trier, Germany in 2002. While it’s risky to take high doses of vitamin C without medical supervision, eating vitamin-C-rich foods like red bell peppers, cabbage and citrus fruits can help ensure you get enough of this nutrient.