Depression is almost always thought of as a disease of its own, and because of this, psychiatrists often rush to prescribe prescription anti-depressants as part of its treatment. This, however, is not the best first step combating the problem. That’s because depression is also a symptom of several medical issues, so those issues should be ruled out before psychiatric medications are used.
One of the most overlooked causes of depression is nutritional deficiency. The brain and body both need a variety of nutrients, and if they are not present in sufficient quantities, mental and physical problems result. People with clinical depression often show deficiencies in nutrients if they are tested for them.
Top Nutrients to Watch
Vitamin D – The Ultramind Solution author Mark Hyman, MD has noted that vitamin D deficiency is linked to many mental issues, including depression, autism, and dementia. Many other doctors note that this is a common type of deficiency, as well. The amount of vitamin D needed to prevent problems is contentious, but there seems to be no problem with adding reasonable levels of supplementation.
Magnesium – This mineral is needed to help muscles relax, especially after they have been contracted to create motion. Mentally, it helps alleviate anxiety, a condition that often accompanies depression.
Vitamin B Complex – All of the B vitamins are good for mental health, but some are more prominent than others. Vitamin B12 deficiency, for example, was found in over 25 percent of elderly people with severe depression. You should also watch your levels of vitamin B6.
Iron – This mineral is needed in order for your body to make enough red blood cells. Deficiency causes anemia, which in turn can cause depression, lethargy, shortness of breath which can be extreme, and more. The most bio-available form of iron is found in meat.
Folate – Folate, or folic acid, has a strange connection with depression. It can cause anti-depressant medications to fail. This nutrient is also necessary for creating the biochemical co-factors needed for the brain to produce serotonin and dopamine, both of which are important for controlling depression.
Iodine – This deficiency was once rare, but as more people either avoid salt or choose non-iodized versions (such as Himalayan sea salt), it is returning. Iodine is needed for proper thyroid function. Without it, production of thyroid hormone can drop, resulting in hypothyroidism. Depression is often one of the symptoms of this condition.
Carbohydrates – The low-carb craze has been contributing to depression, according to a report from the Indian Journal of Psychiatry. The Journal notes that carbs cause the body to produce insulin, which allows energy into the body and also produces a spike in serotonin and tryptophan. These neurotransmitters are of the “feel good” variety and help lift one’s spirits. Without them, depression results.
When a nutrient deficiency is severe enough to be clinically detected, supplementation is usually needed to correct it. Once levels have been brought solidly into the normal range, a good diet can often keep them there. To find out if you have a nutritional deficiency, get your blood tested. Most nutrient levels can be easily measured in this way.
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