Vitamins and Supplements to the Rescue

Berries, vitamins and nutritional supplements on white backgroundVitamins and supplements–here we come.

Here’s what I have learned. Beating depression often takes a multi-tiered approach. What does this approach include? Here’s the list and it’s probably not complete: therapy, vitamins, supplements, alternative therapies (such as relaxation and aromatherapy), meditation, time spent with animals, time spent with friends, reaching out to the community, exercise, light therapy, gratitude, stimulating the mind and medication.

Why are vitamins and supplements so important? I’ve learned the answer is both simple and complex. From an evolutionary standpoint, the twenty first century is just a blip in time from the paleolithic period. And the diet that twenty first century man is meant to eat is the one that our paleolithic ancestors ate: a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and fish. Do we eat this? The answer is a resounding ‘No.’ We eat fast food, processed food, sugar and more processed food.

Why does this matter? It matters because we are not getting the vitamins and nutrients our bodies need. Our ancestors ate what they could find, hunt or catch– and these findings provided them with ample doses of Omega-3 oils, necessary for the proper and healthy functioning of the brain. Deficiencies in Omega 3 have been linked to depression as well as other ailments. In fact, in countries where fish is a mainstay of the diet, depression rates are sometimes ten times lower than in North America.

Twenty first century man does not spend his days hunting wild game, eating greens by the fistful or spearing fish. Consequently, he does not get the Omega-3 needed in his diet. As the body cannot make Omega-3, it leaves modern man the dilemma–seek out and dine on wild game, increase fish intake considerably or take fish oil supplements. Unfortunately, wild game is a rarity; we North Americans believe greens to be an accompaniment to a meal rather than a meal itself and too much fish can mean too much mercury. All this leaves mercury-free fish oil supplements a good option.

Another substance deficient in people who are depressed is a B vitamin known as folic acid, also called folate. Researchers have found that people whose folate levels are low do not respond as well to antidepressants as people with sufficient levels. Folate is found in vegetables, particularly green leafy vegetables, fruits, fortified grains and beans. It is also available as a supplement.

Magnesium also is deficient in many people who are depressed. Good sources of magnesium can be found in whole grains, green vegetables, nuts and legumes. And it too is available as a supplement.

B vitamins are very important for those with depression. Vitamin B6 is necessary for the adequate production of mood-enhancing neurotransmitters, while B12 helps with moods and irritability. A deficiency in B1 can cause problems with fatigue and irritability while inositol, a B vitamin, is necessary While most people have ample B6, those taking oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy can cause a Vitamin B6 deficiency.

Vitamin D is another important supplement for people who are depressed, particularly those suffering with Seasonal Affective Disorder.

There are other vitamins and supplements often suggested for people who are depressed but as I am no guru on the subject, I will list some and leave the research to you. Other vitamins and supplements believed to help with depression include L-theanine, Cysteine, Zinc, Vitamin C, Vitamin B12