8 Natural Supplements For Reducing Depression
Depression is the most common form of mental illness in the developed world. In the United States, more than 40 million people are affected by depression, approximately 18% of the population (Adaa.org, 2014).
Many people turn to pharmaceuticals to treat their depression, however there are some nutrients which may help you overcome this debilitating illness. By utilizing these specific nutrients to combat depression, you can avoid the nasty side effects that some pharmaceutical medications have.
Here are eight natural supplements that can help with depression:
Many of the B group vitamins can help improve your mood by lifting serotonin levels in your brain.
Inositol (Vitamin B8) plays a role in treating depression. It has been demonstrated to help serotonin operate in the brain (NYULangone, 2014). People with higher levels of serotonin function in their brains are less likely to be depressed. Foods high in inositol include citrus, cantaloupe, lima beans, navy beans and whole-grain bread.
People with a folic acid (Vitamin B9) deficiency are more likely to have depression (Psychology Today, 2013). Folic acid helps create red blood cells, manage metabolism and deal with cell division. Researchers also believe people with high levels of folic acid may have a better response to some antidepressant medications (Coppen A, Bailey J 2000).
The benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids have been highlighted in the media recently. While the media focus has been on using omega-3s for better cardiovascular health, they can also be used to treat depression. Two of the omega-3s, Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), have been identified as reducing the symptoms of mild to moderate depression (University of Maryland, 2013).
You can obtain omega-3s from any oily fish including sardines, herring, pilchards, salmon and trout.
This herb has been popular in the Middle East for many thousands of years. It can be used to treat a wide variety of ailments. In a meta-analysis of the available data, researchers found that saffron can reduce the symptoms of mild depression (Hausenblas HA, Saha D, Dubyak PJ, Anton SD, 2013). It does this by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. The only drawback of saffron is that it is very expensive to buy.
See Also: 4 Ways To Overcome Depression Naturally
St. Johns wort (Hypericum perforatum)
St. Johns wort is a flowering plant that can also be used to treat depression. Research into the herb has found that it is effective in the treatment of major depression (Linde K, Berner MM, Kriston L, 2008). You can buy this herb fresh or use one of the many pills formulated with St. Johns wort.
Theanine is an amino acid commonly found in green tea. This compound can be used to reduce anxiety and treat high blood pressure. Theanine has a similar chemical structure to other amino acids that help transmit impulses in the brain. By using theanine to reduce the amount of anxiety you are experiencing, depression symptoms are also eased. Theanine does this by triggering the release of Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA activates neurotransmitters that have a calming effect on the mind.
5-Hydroxy Tryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid that plays an important role in creating serotonin in the brain. You can find 5-HTP in certain high-protein foods including beans, fish and hard boiled egg. You can also buy 5-HTP in capsule form to supplement your diet.
Some studies suggest that vitamin D deficiency may lead to depression. The research has been mixed, but if you wish to err on the side of caution, obtaining vitamin D is very easy. Spend more time in the sun or take a vitamin supplement to address vitamin D deficiency.
S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) is a naturally occurring compound that can effect certain neurotransmitters in the brain and reduce depression symptoms. Some research indicates SAMe is as effective as pharmaceutical antidepressants when treating mild to moderate depression (University of Maryland, 2011). You can buy SAMe tablets from most pharmacies.
By improving your overall nutrition and targeting these specific nutrients, it is easier to ward off mild to moderate depression. Some of the nutrients listed above also help your pharmacological solutions work more effectively within the body.