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The Best Vitamins and Minerals for Depression

By Jill Andrews

Depression is a medical illness that can affect both your body and mind. This illness can disrupt your daily functioning and cause many symptoms, including sadness, loss of interest, weight-loss or gain, appetite loss or gain, fatigue, feelings of sadness, muscle aches and pains and difficulty sleeping. Consuming a well-balanced diet rich in specific vitamins and minerals may be helpful in treating your depression. Consult your doctor before taking supplements and never replace other forms of treatment with supplements.

Vitamin B-6

Vitamin B-6 is an essential vitamin that may play a role in depression. If you are deficient in this vitamin, you may experience symptoms such as confusion, irritability and depression. The recommended daily intake for this vitamin is 1.3 milligrams per day in adults, says the Linus Pauling Institute. Vitamin B-6 contains an enzyme that aids in the production of brain chemicals called serotonin and norepinephrine, which are important for mood regulation. Therefore, if you lack this vitamin, it can contribute to depression. Evidence is mixed and more studies are required.

Vitamin B-12

Vitamin B-12 plays an important role in the synthesis of brain chemicals that influence your mood and proper brain functioning. Deficiencies in vitamin B-12 may be associated with depression. Evidence is unclear and more studies are required to determine a relationship. Since this vitamin is essential for a healthy body, you can boost your intake of this vitamin through foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products. If you do not consume animal foods, then you can become deficient in this vitamin. Consult your doctor about taking a supplement.

Folic Acid

Folic acid, a B vitamin, has been used to treat depression in combination with conventional antidepressant medications. However, according to MedlinePlus, evidence that folic acid alone can treat depression is limited and more research is required. The recommended daily intake for this vitamin is 400 mcg per day, according to MedlinePlus. You also can find this vitamin in foods such as leafy vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and fortified breads and cereals.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D may be helpful for a type of depression called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center This form of depression occurs during the winter months and is potentially caused by a lack of sunlight exposure. Research is inconclusive and more studies are required. You can obtain vitamin D in a supplement or in many foods, such as fortified milk, grain products and fatty fish.

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