Good Mood Foods: Improving Your Mood Through Nutrition
Mood swings, depression and stress are all things we want to avoid. Many of these symptoms can be minimized through proper nutrition. Diets lacking essential vitamins and nutrients can secretly be affecting your mood. Lacking certain nutrients can cause fatigue, stress, exhaustion and depression. There has been a lot of research on the connection between the different types of nutrients our body absorbs from the food we eat and how they impact our overall well-being.
Calcium is known for strong bones and teeth, but also allows muscles to move and nerves to properly carry messages between your brain and body. Some easy sources of calcium are dairy products, nut milks, dark green vegetables, or even a calcium supplement. A big spinach salad with goat cheese and you are well on your way for your daily calcium intake!
Iron is a component of hemoglobin found in blood cells that transport oxygen from our lungs to the rest of your body. If you have an iron deficiency you may find yourself getting winded and fatigued even if you’re in great shape. Severe iron deficiency can lead to anemia.You can help get more iron into your diet by eating iron rich foods such as meat (especially red meat and liver), dark green vegetables, beans or by taking supplements. Check with your physician, as the levels needed change with age.
Omega-3 fatty acids
This is one type of fat that you should not cut out of your diet. You can find this fatty acid in fish like salmon and trout and even flax and chia seeds! Our body does not naturally produce omega-3 fatty acids so we must get it from outside sources.This fatty acid can help improve your mood, reduce inflammation (which can help lower risks of heart diseases and cancer) and it can even help plump and nourish your skin. Our brain also requires omega-3’s to help with memory and performance.
Vitamin B6 helps produce neurotransmitters and protect the immune system. This powerful vitamin can improve your metabolic function, help with PMS and skin conditions. Vitamin B6 plays a big role in brain development and function. B6 helps influence our emotions by making serotonin and norepinephrine that can affect our mood; it also helps our body make melatonin, which keeps our “internal clock” regulated. For a quick hit of B6, sunflower seeds, pistachios, and fish like tuna and salmon will give you a good dose. Not only will they give you B6, but these snacks also have protein to help keep you full.
Our bodies rely heavily on signals from our brain. Low levels of Vitamin B12 can cause fatigue, slower cognitive reasoning and can be associated with depression. Vitamin B12 also helps prevent a type of anemia that can cause extreme fatigue.Our bodies do not produce Vitamin B12, but you can find Vitamin B12 is many foods like meats, eggs and fortified cereal. Before reaching for caffeine, make sure you are getting enough B12 for energy, concentration and mood!
Vitamin D3 promotes strong bones when used in combination with calcium. It has also been shown to help regulate mood, minimizing symptoms of depression. You can have low levels of vitamin D3 if you have limited sun exposure (common during Midwest winters) and do not eat enough Vitamin D3 rich foods. If you are feeling tired, or depressed try increasing your levels, especially during winter when we have less sunlight. A simple 20 minute walk over lunch or food sources such as eggs, fatty fish and fortified dairy can help boost your Vitamin D Levels.
Zinc promotes a healthy immune system by helping our body fight off harmful bacteria and viruses. Zinc can also help depression and mood swings as it helps regulate the brain and our body’s responses to stress. If you are stressed or concerned about coming down with something, look for sources of zinc such as meat, seeds, nuts, beans and shellfish. Pass the lobster!
*These are some simple suggestions to make sure you are getting the proper nutrients your body needs! Remember to consult your doctor for nutritional guidelines.