29 Aug 10 Nutrients Scientifically Proven to Make You Feel Awesome
Want some pep in your step? Perhaps a dash of good cheer? (Who doesn’t, right?). Look no further than the grocery store’s shelves. Foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids are not only super healthy, but can also increase happiness, lessen symptoms of depression, and quell anxiety.
How can foods improve our moods? It all comes down to the brain. A healthy cognitive system is essential to regulating mood, and certain nutrients have a profound impact on maintaining normal brain function . To date, researchers have studied the association between foods and the brain and identified nine nutrients that can combat depression and boost our mood: calcium, chromium, folate, iron, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and zinc . Try one of these foods for a mid-day pick-me-up, to promote long-term happiness, or to ward off the nagging worry that you forgot to lock the front door (You did remember, right?).
A bit about the units used below: Mg (milligram) is the typical unit of measurement for nutrients and 1,000 mg equals 1 gram. Mcg is the abbreviation of microgram and 1,000 mcg equals 1 mg.
The most abundant mineral in the body, calcium plays an important role in maintaining strong bones and healthy blood vessels, and in reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Low levels of calcium may play a role in PMS-related depression in particular . (Sorry guys, we couldn’t find data on whether calcium can also regulate male fluctuations in mood). Calcium deficiency affects more women than men, so women should take special care to meet the daily requirements .
How eating it helps: Found in a variety of sources (non-dairy included), calcium is often paired with vitamin D to help regulate mood fluctuations attributed to PMS . Since estrogen plays a large role in calcium production, calcium consumption may improve PMS-related depression .
RDA: 1,000 mg per day for adults
Food Sources of Calcium:
- Collard greens (frozen) (1 cup): 357 mg
- Ricotta (part skim) (1/2 cup): 308 mg
- Yogurt (plain/low fat) (3/4 cup): 310 mg
- Milk (1 cup, 1%, low-fat): 305 mg
- Kale (frozen) (1 cup): 179 mg
A trace mineral found in small amounts in the body, chromium helps the body metabolize food . A lack of chromium hurts the body’s ability to regulate insulin (the hormone that regulates sugar) and may lead to diabetes-related complications like vision loss and high blood pressure .
How eating it helps: Chromium plays an important role in increasing the brains’ level of serotonin, norepinephrine, and melatonin, which help the brain regulate emotion and mood . Because chromium works directly with the brain’s mood regulators, it’s been found to be an effective treatment of depression .
RDA: 25 mcg per day for women; 35 mcg per day for men
Food Sources of Chromium:
- Broccoli (1/2 cup): 11 mcg
- Grape juice (1 cup): 8 mcg
- Whole-wheat English muffin (1 piece): 4 mcg
- Potatoes (mashed) (1 cup): 3 mcg
- Turkey breast (1/3 cup): 2 mcg
Folate (alternatively known as B9 or folic acid) helps the body create new cells and supports serotonin regulation. Serotonin passes messages between nerve cells and helps the brain manage a variety of functions, from determining mood to regulating social behavior. Folate deficiency can cause fatigue in addition to lowering levels of serotonin .
How eating it helps: A pair of power nutrients, Folate and B12 are often paired together to treat depression . By itself, Folate has the added benefit of boosting the efficiency of antidepressants .
RDA: 400 mcg per day for adults
Food Sources of Folate:
- Spinach (1/2 cup): 131 mcg
- Black eyed peas (1/2 cup): 105 mcg
- Asparagus (4 spears): 89 mcg
- Brussels sprouts (1/2 cup): 78 mcg
- Avocado (1/2 cup): 59 mcg
To read full article, visit Greatist.com.