Depending on where you live in the world, vitamin D can be hard to come by. Three-quarters of American teens and adults are deficient in this vitamin, most likely because their exposure to sunlight is limited – and the body can only make vitamin D when it is exposed to sunlight.
This nutrient is extremely important and plays a role in most bodily functions. Our brains contain a large number of vitamin D receptors, indicating that it plays a role in cognitive function. It’s recommended that everyone gets 20 minutes of sun exposure each day or 2,000 IU daily of vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D can also be found in fatty fish, cheese, eggs, mushrooms, cereals, and soy milk.
2. Omega 3s
Research supports the theory that omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in brain health, specifically when it comes down to improving symptoms of depression and cognitive functioning. One of the best ways to get more omega-3s in your diet is to eat fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring. If eating fish isn’t your thing, you can supplement with fish oil. You can also get omega-3s from nuts and seeds such as flax seeds, chia seed, walnuts, and almonds.
It’s recommended that we get at least 1,800 - 2,000 mg of two key kinds of omega 3s: DHA and EPA. If you’re taking omega-3 supplements, they should have at least 650 mg of DHA and 1200 mg of EPA.
This vitamin plays an important role in a wide array of bodily functions, both psychological and physical. It’s especially important for proper nerve functioning, which is one of the reasons that it’s often associated with neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression.
The birth control pill depletes B vitamins, especially B6, so supplementation is recommended for those who are on the pill. If you’re not on the pill, it’s recommended that you get around 25 mg of vitamin B6 each day. Seafood, lean meats, eggs, poultry, legumes, and soy products are great sources of this vitamin.
4. Vitamin B3
This vitamin is involved in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that allows brain cells and other nervous system cells to communicate. Having too little serotonin has been linked to depression.
In other words, a deficiency in B3 can impair levels of serotonin and have a negative impact on your mood. Therefore, if you’re’ feeling depressed, it’s recommended to get a daily B3 dose of 20 mg, although you might need a higher dose if your depression is severe. This vitamin can be found in mushrooms, peanuts, poultry, fish, peas, potatoes, pasta, milk, and cheese.
Magnesium helps with muscle tension, relaxation, constipation, and also plays a key role in the production of brain hormones. Still, nearly half of American adults consume less than the required amount of magnesium.
Foods that are rich in magnesium include dried beans, nuts, dark leafy greens, and whole grains. However, you can also take a supplement of 320-450 mg each day.
6. Vitamin C
A lot of research has been done over the years that have found a link between vitamin C and mood, as well as cognitive functioning, especially in the elderly. These studies have shown a significant reduction in anxiety and depression when sufficient levels of vitamin C were taken, either in through diet or supplements.
Since it’s a water-soluble vitamin and not stored by the body, it must be taken regularly to ensure that healthy levels are maintained. It’s recommended that we get a minimum of 100 mg per day and no more than 2,000 mg per day, since it can cause diarrhea.
Foods that are high in vitamin C include oranges, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, kiwis, broccoli, tomatoes, and parsley.
This vitamin helps to boost mood, energy, and depression, which is why many people with mood disorders such as depression are often deficient in it.
An estimated 15% of American adults are vitamin B12 deficient. To keep your vitamin B12 levels adequate enough, add sardines, beef liver, lamb, eggs, mackerel, feta cheese, and cottage cheese to your diet. If you’re a vegetarian or a vegan, you can get it in supplement form.
This vital nutrient, which goes by the name of folic acid or vitamin B9, helps the body to create new cells. This is why it’s extremely important for pregnant women to get their fair share of it. In fact, pregnant women experiencing a vitamin B9 deficiency are at risk of having a baby with neural tube defects such as anencephaly and spina bifida. Additionally, a deficiency in this nutrient can cause depression.
With your doctor’s permission, aim for around 400 mcg per day of folic acid. It can be found in leafy green vegetables, breads, citrus fruits, beans, rice, pastas, and cereal.
The biggest signs of iron deficiency are low energy, mood changes, and chronic fatigue. If these symptoms sound familiar to you, you might be one of the almost 10% of women or 2% of men who suffer from a deficiency.
The recommended daily amount of iron is 18mg for women of childbearing years and 25 mg for pregnant women. However, if iron supplements aren’t your thing, you can get this nutrient from animal protein, lentils, liver, spinach, soy foods, milk, and cereal.
Humans require a very small amount of this metallic element, though anywhere from 25-50% of American adults are mildly deficient in it. Chromium helps to balance our blood sugar levels which, in turn, stabilizes our mood.
If you’re consuming chromium in a supplement it’s recommended that you get 200 mcg per day. However, it can also be found in animal proteins and potatoes.