The lowered mood is one of the major symptoms of depression. A disorder that is affecting approximately 20% of the population. The main treatment for this condition is antidepressants, mostly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or combined serotonin/noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors.
According to experts depression is caused by the imbalance of neurotransmitters or hormones in the body i.e. low levels of serotonin. Serotonin plays a significant role in regulation of mood and cognition along with help to deliver signals from one part of the brain to another. 90% of the human body’s regulating hormone has found in the GI tract (in our gut), where it regulates intestinal movements. If you eat something toxic or irritating the digestive system your intestines start to produce more serotonin. The extra serotonin helps move the affected food, so it can be eliminated from the body quicker.
What if you are Serotonin Deficiency?
If you are, then you experience a wide variety of symptoms like anger, digestive disorders, disrupted sleep schedule, issues with self-esteem, general bad moods, headaches and migraine, changes in eating (binge eating), anxiety and/or depression, increased sensitivity to pain.
If you have missed the previous part of mood-boosting supplements you can check it out here.
Tryptophan And Serotonin
Tryptophan or L-tryptophan is one of the essential amino acids, it is used in the biosynthesis of proteins. It is naturally found in animal and plant proteins. Our body cannot synthesize it: it must be obtained from the diet. There are many health benefits of this amino acid, but the most important is the ability to increase niacin and thus serotonin.
Tryptophan acts as a biochemical processor for the following compounds:
- Serotonin (neurotransmitter)
- Melatonin (neurohormone)
- Niacin also knows as vitamin B3
- Auxins (a class of phytohormones)
One study included 15 healthy adults and put them in stressful situations twice – once they had normal tryptophan blood levels and once when they had low levels. The researchers found that anxiety, tension, and feelings of nervousness were higher when the volunteers had low tryptophan levels.
Based on the results, low levels of this amino acid could contribute to mood disorders.
Tryptophan-containing foods: sea vegetables, soy, butternut squash, cucumber, walnuts, potato, leafy greens, seeds, spinach, mushroom, cauliflower, salmon, eggs, poultry
In the case of severe deficiency, food supplements are always available!
Magnesium And The Hormones
Around 60% of magnesium, our body is found in bone, the rest is in muscles, soft tissues and fluids. This mineral is involved in more than 600 processes, including:
- Nervous system regulation
- Muscle movement
- Energy creation
- Gene maintenance
- Protein formation
Magnesium is a base micronutrient for hormone pathways, detoxification and neurotransmitters.
There are many women suffer from endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or hormonal migraines. These conditions are related to poor hormone metabolism (hormones like estrogen aren’t getting used correctly). Then, the estrogen builds up creating a high estrogen state called estrogen dominance. Adding magnesium in, and these hormones start finding their right path and solving these hormonal imbalances.
Magnesium is critical if it is about detoxification! It detoxifies metals including aluminium, mercury, cadmium, beryllium, and nickel. Keeping high magnesium levels can prevent deficiencies that can lead to breakdowns in detoxification systems.
The central nervous system has one of the highest levels of magnesium in the body. Studies dating back in the 1920s showing how important this mineral is for the balanced brain. It interacts with GABA, helping the calming actions of this neurotransmitter. People with higher magnesium levels also have a good amount of serotonin in the cerebrospinal fluid.
Magnesium-rich foods: spinach, quinoa, dark chocolate, red wine, avocado, edamame, cashews and peanuts, tofu.
Chromium And Blood Sugar
You can find this trace mineral in small amounts in the body. It can enhance protein, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. Lacking this nutrient interferes with the body’s ability to regulate insulin (sugar-regulating hormone).
I understand that is not clear for all of you how blood sugar levels can navigate mood. Imagine eating something sugary. It is a large amount of energy that quickly raising the glycemic index (blood sugar level). As you are on a peak there is one way from there…the blood sugar then drops and creates a wide variety of negative emotions along with headaches, fatigue, shaking…
Chromium helps to increase the brain’s level of “good feeling hormones” alias serotonin, norepinephrine and melatonin. These hormones are responsible for helping the brain to regulate emotion and mood.
Chromium containing foods:
Broccoli, barley, grape juice, potatoes, oats, green beans, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, apples, bananas, brown rice
Chromium deficiency is a widespread problem. Athletes, pregnant women, elderly and diabetics are especially at risk. Deficiency can cause impaired insulin function, heart disease, inhibition of protein synthesis and energy production.
There are studies have shown the link between lacking this mineral and high blood insulin, and elevated blood cholesterol levels.
There are other contributing factors leading to a deficiency found in diets with large quantities of refined foods, especially simple sugars. These foods not only low in chromium but increase the losses through the urine. A long period of stress, pregnancy, physical trauma, infection and excessive exercise are all contributing to chromium deficiency.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approximately 10% of Americans fighting with some sort of depression. Nearly half of those depressions are major. 90% of suicides occur in people with treatable psychiatric illnesses, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
I am sure most of you have heard about Omega Fatty Acids and their impact on mood disorders. It has been long recognized for their heart-health benefits, also it is an effective therapy for different mood disorders like major depression, bipolar disorders and even schizophrenia.
Gretchen Vannice , MS, RD who is an independent nutrition research consultant from Portland, Oregon written a brilliant book with a help of a PHD Jill Kelly. If you want to gather knowledge and go deeper into this subject, you can check her amazing book out here Omega-3 Handbook.
“Improving intake of long-chain omega-3s will reduce the burden of disease and the cost of healthcare.” -Gretchen Vannice
Omega-3s are the essential polyunsaturated fats. There are 3 main omega 3-s:
- ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid) – is found mostly in plant foods like walnuts, chia seeds, flax and hemp seed, spinach, kale, soybeans. It also found in some animal fats. ALA needs to be converted into EPH and DHA before it can be used by the human body. When it isn’t converted into EPA and DHA it remains inactive and acts as an energy source.
- EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) is made from omega-3s reduce inflammation. It comes mainly from fish so it sometimes called marine omega-3.“EPA doesn’t become part of a brain cell’s structure the way DHA does. It seems to help by reducing inflammatory processes in the brain and by balancing out metabolic pathways,” Vannice says. “Many studies show that DHA alone doesn’t work for depression. You need a little more EPA than DHA to get results. We’re still trying to understand exactly why, but we know it matters.”
- DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) is found in cold-water fishes like salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines and tuna. DHA focuses on the brain’s grey matter and the retinas in the eyes.
When buying fish oil make sure you check the label to see how much EPA and DHA is provided. Usually, 1000mg of fish oil supplies around 300mg of combined EPA and DHA.
The recommended daily intake is 1100 mg for women and 1600 mg for men.
Things To Remember
- Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that acts as a biochemical processor for neurotransmitters, neurohormones and phytohormones
- Magnesium is essential for healthy brain and nervous system
- Chromium helps to regulate blood sugar levels, also helps to increase the brain’s “good feeling hormones”
- Omega 3s are an effective therapy for different mood disorders