Dietary Inadequacies Linked to Depression

Research conducted in Finland took a close look at the role diet may play in controlling symptoms of depression. What they found is that what a person eats really does affect health and well-being.

In their study, the Finnish researchers examined 3,000 adults who were middle-aged or older. For study purposes, the team divided depression into melancholic and non-melancholic categories. Melancholic depression is the type of depression most often associated with a person’s low mood – feeling down or blue. Non-melancholic depression is more typified by feelings of anxiety, worry and low self-regard. The melancholic form of depression seemed very closely tied to dietary intakes of vitamin B12 and folic acid.

Patients who consumed a low amount of vitamin B12 and folate experienced a higher risk of melancholic depression symptoms. Conversely, when subjects increased the amount of folic acid in their diet, their risk of symptoms was cut in half compared to subjects with low folate. Similarly, subjects who boosted their intake of vitamin B12 lowered their risk of symptoms by three times as much below those with less B12 in their diets. More vitamin B12 and more folic acid meant fewer symptoms of low mood depression.

Both folic acid and vitamin B12 are forms of B vitamins. According to the research in Finland, boosting your intake of these key nutrients can help keep your mood bright. So, here is a quick look at what foods contain these choice vitamins.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is found mostly in animal products. Shellfish provide a particularly rich source of B12. Thus, adding clams, mussels, oysters, crab and/or lobster to your diet is the best way to get bang for your bite. Fish and fish products (like caviar) are also loaded with B12. If you are not a fish lover or if it will break the budget, you can also get a healthy dose of B12 by eating beef, liver or lamb. Animal products like eggs and cheese also provide a good source of this important vitamin. Make sure there is at least one animal product in your daily diet.

Folic Acid/Folate

This B vitamin is often touted as essential for expectant moms because it plays such a role in brain development. But, just as unborn babies’ brains benefit from it, all adult brains gain needed support too. And better brain health leads to better mental health! Foods with folic acid are abundant. Leafy greens (turnip, collard, mustard), spinach and romaine lettuce are all great sources of folate. Keep in mind, the darker the better. Citrus fruits are another good source. One orange, one grapefruit or a single cup of raspberries or strawberries can provide all the folate needed for the day. Lentils, split peas, green peas and beans are all foods that will yield necessary folic acid. Seeds like flax, sunflower, peanut and almond or vegetables like corn, cauliflower, celery, carrots and squash will each fuel the brain for healthy function.

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