When you feel sad or irritable, it might seem impossible to turn your mood around. But simple changes to your dietary habits can result in a noticeably improved mood. While treatment of clinical depression and mood disorders should be discussed with your doctor, for most people, eating foods rich in certain vitamins and minerals and complementing your diet with alternative supplements could be exactly what you need to turn your mood around.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort is a plant cultivated and produced as a natural dietary supplement. This herb is primarily used in the treatment of mild to moderate depressive symptoms, though it may interfere with prescription medications and should not be taken simultaneously with them. According to a 2013 thesis from the University of Queensland, St. John’s wort usage in individuals with depressive symptoms yields similar or greater results than traditionally prescribed antidepressants. The same study also indicated St. John’s wort is a far more cost-efficient choice.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid found in foods such as oily fish and flaxseed. A chronic lack of dietary omega-3 fatty acid is associated with clinical depression and other mood disorders such as bipolar disorder. According to a June 2006 literary review by the “American Journal of Psychiatry,” people with depressive symptoms and bipolar disorder both show improved symptoms and greater mood stability when they consumed omega-3 fatty acids daily. The additional health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, including reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, make it an even healthier choice for enhancing mood.
S-adenosylmethionine, or SAMe, is a compound in the body responsible for maintaining the immune system and producing certain chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin. According to a July 2012 study from the “Canadian Journal of Psychiatry,” regular supplementation of SAMe is a potentially viable treatment option for major depressive disorder because of its improvement of symptoms. This may be due to its effects on serotonin production, though its exact function is still the topic of ongoing research.
Folate, a B vitamin found in vegetables, fruits, nuts, meat and a variety of other foods, is shown to have an effect on mood. A February 2008 study published in Cambridge Journals’ “Public Health Nutrition” indicates that chronically low folate levels lead to decreased mood in otherwise healthy males. Additionally, folate plays a supporting role in the effects of SAMe and may be helpful in reducing depressive symptoms when supplemented simultaneously.
- University of Queensland: The Treatment of Mild to Moderate Depression: a Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of St. John’s Wort Versus Pharmacotherapy
- American Journal of Psychiatry: Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Mood Disorders
- Canadian Journal of Psychiatry: Folates and S-Adenosylmethionine for Major Depressive Disorder
- Public Health Nutrition: Folate Status and Mood: Is There a Relationship?
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM): St. John’s Wort and Depression
- University of Maryland Medical Center: S-Adenosylmethionine
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Folate