Depression is one most prevalent causes of mental illness around the world. It is a major issue both in developing and developed nations.
The impact of depression on an individual is enormous, including reduced standard of living an increase in likelihood of dying, and a feeling of complete feeling of helplessness. Depression can also come at costs that are not affordable in terms of treatment and revenues soaring to millions.
While a number of effective treatment options already exist to treat depression, some may be expensive, unavailable or even ineffective for a specific person. Studies show that a diet high in sugars, fats and processed foods is associated with depression and brain and mental health problems.
Depression and Diet
A person’s eating habits, which will determine the nutrients they consume, can contribute to depression. A study found that symptoms of people with moderate to severe depression improved when they received nutritional counseling and followed a healthier diet for 12 weeks.
The improved diet focuses on nutrient-rich fresh, whole foods. It also has a limitation on processed refined foods, candy and fried foods. Depressive symptoms, including mood and anxiety, improved enough to reach remission criteria in over 32% of participants. The researchers concluded that people could help manage or improve their depressive symptoms by addressing their diet.
Read also: Do Supplements Work For Anxiety?
With this in mind, Nutritional Mental Health has become increasingly popular and research recently published aimed to identify exactly which nutritional supplements might improve symptoms of depression:
This article reviews the literature investigating these nutritional interventions for the treatment of clinical depression, with a particular focus on pathophysiology, epidemiology, and clinical research.
The researchers considered the evidence surrounding several supplements that have been of interest for some time, the supplements they considered were:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- B-vitamins (vitamin B9 (folate), vitamin B12, and vitamin B6)
- S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe)
- 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)
The authors thoroughly investigated all of the available literature and past research supporting the use of these supplements in reducing the symptoms of depression and in the end were able to provide support for 2 of the supplements in particular:
Of the supplements reviewed here, omega-3 fatty acids and B-vitamins (folate, B12, and B6) are the most thoroughly researched and have the most promising clinical efficacy.
Omega-3 fatty acids
They are available naturally in oily fishes such as salmon and tuna as well as nuts and seeds such as walnuts, flaxseeds and soybeans or as supplements. The importance of omega 3 is particularly due to these two amino acids. There are also vegetable sources of omega 3. Modern diet now make it difficult for the average child or adult to consume enough omega-3 fatty acids to provide health benefits. This may be a factor in the increase we have seen over the past century in certain medical areas, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Studies were conducted on people suffering from depression which also include pregnant women. In depressed patients, it was found that in addition to their treatment, they recovered more quickly if they consumed omega 3 for 8 weeks.
In the same way, in pregnant women in a state of depression due to certain difficulties encountered during their pregnancy, their state improved considerably after 6 weeks if they regularly consumed omega 3. These results were obtained thanks to the benefits of amino acids
By facilitating stress regulation, omega 3s prevent depression before it becomes effective or severe in patients. They are effective in cases of moral decline, but when the depression is considered more severe, omega 3s alone cannot make the stress disappear. Instead, they must be complementary to treatments against depression in order to achieve a faster result and allow subjects to return to a good mood.
B-vitamins are also available naturally in fish, meat, eggs, diary products as well as green vegetables, beans and peas or alternatively as a supplement. All B vitamins play a role in brain physiology. They function as co-factors of important enzymes and are a component of crucial coenzymes (FMN, FAD, CoA). They are responsible for cellular energy production and the manufacture of neurotransmitters. Each B vitamin induces neurological symptoms in case of deficiency.
Vitamin B9, also known as “folate” or “folic acid”, plays a fundamental role in the preservation of brain function and mental acuity. Even before birth, it is essential for the proper development of the neural tube in the embryo, which will form its brain and spinal cord.
Vitamin B9 is also involved in the formation of certain brain neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. It has been observed that a high consumption of vitamins B6, B9 and B12 was associated with a lower risk of depression. At the same time, patients with depression tend to have lower than average folate levels.
Vitamin B6 also ensures adequate oxygenation of the brain, good immune defense and is a powerful antioxidant that helps rid the body of toxic substances that we absorb.
S-adenosylmethionine (often called SAMe) is a naturally occurring substance in the human body that helps produce and regulate hormones and brain chemicals. Many studies have found SAMe to be effective when used as an antidepressant. As we know depression may be related to B9 and B12 deficiencies, and SAM-e appears to affect these vitamins, which are involved in many physiological processes, such as the synthesis of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and acetylcholine.
5-hydroxytryptophan (commonly known as 5-HTP) is a substance naturally produced by our body from an amino acid called tryptophan. 5-HTP is converted by the brain into serotonin and melatonin – two neurotransmitters that are responsible for, among other things, regulating sleep patterns Higher levels of these neurotransmitters are associated with a better ability to fall asleep and a more restful, deeper sleep throughout the night.
5-HTP is extracted from a natural source: the seeds of an African plant (Griffonia simplicifolia), while L-tryptophan is produced by bacterial fermentation.
Magnesium has many health benefits. In our body, magnesium participates in the metabolism of lipids (fats), in the breakdown of glucose to provide energy to our body and in the synthesis of proteins. In addition to acting in the regulation of heart rate, blood pressure and bone strength, magnesium also plays a role in fighting inflammation in the body. The association between magnesium intake and depressive symptoms is well documented.
Researchers at the University of Vermont (USA) conducted a clinical trial on patients with mild to moderate depression. The study found that there was significant improvement of the symptoms of depression.