We are finally beginning to learn that mental illness is as real and medically treatable as any physical illness, and thankfully this openness has increased dialogue into how and why people suffer from depression, or “the blues.”
While there are some people who will respond to therapy as a treatment, for many more people the issue is a chemical or nutritional imbalance which can not be kept away – much like how you can not just decide not to have diabetes anymore if you just stay really, really positive.
Medicine has come a long way in treating severe depression, but for some people the answer may lie in the foods we eat – or more accurately, the ones we do not.
How Nutrition Affects Your Mental Health
Our bodies run very similar to machines – you have to put quality fuel in or else they will not work as efficiently as they should. One of the leading causes of feeling low or mild depression is a lack of Vitamin D, which most people used to get from exposure to sunlight. However with environmental factors these days creating health concerns about spending time in direct light without the aid of sunscreen, it is rare to find anyone whose body produces enough of this important vitamin on its own.
Vitamin D plays an important role in the function of our bodies and in our mental well-being. Its main purpose it to ensure absorption of calcium to keep our bones in tip-top shape, but a great deal of medical evidence suggests that it is also responsible for at least part of your production of serotonin, or the “happiness” chemical.
Lower Vitamin D levels mean that your body is unable to produce enough chemical to elevate your mood to where it naturally should be. Choosing to incorporate a Vitamin D supplement can elevate serotonin production, leading to a more normal feeling of calm for those who suffer from feeling low or from mild depression.
Mild depression and feeling low can be exacerbated by body image and physical health. Lower amounts of Vitamin D will also cause bones to become brittle, leading to activity, which can make a person question their worth without their health. These concerns are not at all uncommon, but should be taken seriously as feelings of self-worth in general can add stress on an already troubled mind and body.
Do not Forget the Rest of the Gang
While Vitamin D plays an important role in combating depression and improving mood, it is not standing alone in the battle for your health:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are critical for the inner workings of the body and neglecting their consumption could cause interruptions in other vitamins and minerals doing their job.
Vitamins B6 and B12 assist in the production and distribution of brain chemicals and have been known to decrease depression when ingested in sufficient quantities.
A lack of Vitamin C can cause lethargy, weakness, and changes in your overall mood. Incorporating more into your diet can help alleviate these symptoms, which are often warning signs of depression.
It is important to speak to your doctor if you feel that there have been significant changes in your mood to ensure you get the root of the problem. While some people may require medical intervention to help keep their low feelings under control, adding a multi-vitamin that has concentrations of these vitamins and minerals into your daily diet can not only improve your mood, but also your overall health.