A long, dreary winter can easily get you down, but paying special attention to your food intake may help combat this seasonal slump. Healthy eating has a positive influence on your mood and attitude while reducing stress, anxiety, and the symptoms of depression. Try incorporating healthy foods that are loaded with these nutrients to beat the winter blues.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acids that is not produced by the body, so it must be consumed from foods. It works with other vitamins and minerals to make serotonin, a neurostransmitter (a chemical messenger in the body). Low levels of serotonin have been linked to depression, and higher levels of serotonin may help improve mood.
Foods that contain tryptophan: Meat, poultry, dairy, eggs, nuts and seeds.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids found in fish and some plant foods. They are important for the health of the brain and the central nervous system. Mood swings and depression are some of the symptoms associated with omega-3 fatty acid deficiency.
Foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids: Fatty fish such as salmon, lake trout and sardines, algae, nuts and nut oils.
Vitamin B12 plays a part in the production of brain chemicals that influence mood. Other B vitamins, like B6 and folate, also play a role, but inadequate B12 can be of special concern for vegetarians. It’s possible to get the B12 you need, but this is a vitamin that requires special attention when cutting out animal products. Low levels of B vitamins have been linked to depression.
Foods that contain vitamin B12: Lean meats, fish, poultry, dairy and eggs.
Low magnesium has been found to reduce levels of serotonin. Getting adequate magnesium can be accomplished by eating magnesium-rich foods, but also stay aware of other foods and drinks that have been found to lower magnesium, such as excess coffee, soda, salt, and alcohol.
Foods that contain magnesium: Whole grains, nuts, and green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin D is most often associated with bone health, but levels may also be related to mood disorders. Studies show that low levels of vitamin D are linked to a greater risk for depression. While the easiest way to boost vitamin D is exposure to sunlight, it can also be consumed through food.
Foods that contain vitamin D: Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines and herring, fortified dairy, and eggs.
Selenium is a mineral that acts as an antioxidant. Lower intakes of selenium have been linked to poor mood. One study in older adults suggests that adequate selenium intake may reduce the symptoms of depression.
Foods that contain selenium: Seeds, Brazil nuts, fish, shellfish, and whole grains.