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Nutrition as an antidepressant

MagazineJune 2007 (Vol. 18 Issue 3)Nutrition as an antidepressant

Oily fish have been found to be particularlybeneficial for alleviating depression, so include plenty of mackerel,halibut, sardines and tuna in your diet

Eat 'happy' foods. Oily fish have been found to be particularly beneficial for alleviating depression, so include plenty of mackerel, halibut, sardines and tuna in your diet. Also, eat turkey, salmon and dairy products, as they contain high levels of tryptophan. Eat more foods high in vitamin B6 such as soybeans, lentils, meat, poultry, fish, fruits and brown rice.

Make sure you have enough fat in your diet from mono- or polyunsaturated fats, and cook with olive oil.

Cut out caffeine and refined sugar, both of which have been linked to depression. Drinking more than 700 mg of caffeine a day (which translates into four or five cups of coffee a day) can cause depression, as can a diet with a large amount of refined sugar.

Avoid low-fat diets. Although apparently healthy, they may be doing more harm than good, as studies have shown that low-cholesterol diets can lead to depression and even suicide.

Try eating chocolate. It contains the amino-acid phenylethylamine (PEA). In one study, a group of people with major depression were found to be low in PEA. As soon as they began taking PEA and vitamin B6, their mood lifted.

Supplements

B-complex vitamins - Look for those that contain 50 mcg each of vitamin B12 and biotin, 400 mcg of folic acid and 50 mg of all the other B vitamins

Vitamin C - 500 mg twice a day

Calcium - 500 mg/day and magnesium 200 mg/day (both necessary for nerve function). One recent study showed "rapid recovery [less than seven days] from major depression" with magnesium supplements.

5-HTP

Zinc - 15 mg/day (necessary for healthy brain function)

Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs) - 2 g/day. Cod liver oil capsules are a good inexpensive source-or evening primrose oil 3 g/day, or EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) 1 g/day. In one study, taking EFAs for just 12 weeks was found to reduce depression by 50 per cent-and these were all patients for whom conventional drugs had failed.

Back to How You Beat Depression


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