Best foods for depression?

Mental Health

By pH health care professionals

Depression is more than simply “feeling down.” It prevents people from enjoying activities they once enjoyed, robs them of motivation and energy, isolates them from family and friends, and interferes with their overall health and happiness.

Doctors and psychologists may recommend prescription medication, natural supplements, lifestyle adjustments, cognitive behavioral therapy or other treatment options – or even a combination of them – to help you get some relief.

But now, there’s something else you can do too -- and no, you don’t need to make another appointment for it. Start eating what scientists have ranked as the best “brain foods” for depression.

Eat brain foods for depression? Tell me more!

Scientists have come up with a scale that may help you choose which foods to eat for improving depressive symptoms. They recently presented this evidence-based scale at the American Psychiatric Association 2016 Annual Meeting, emphasizing the crucial role diet plays in brain health, especially in areas of depression and dementia.

“The data are very clear that there’s a powerful prevention signal when we help our patients eat better,” said Drew Ramsey, M.D., assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, during his presentation.

Among his brain-essential nutrients for preventing and treating depression were:

  •          Omega 3 fatty acids
  •          Magnesium
  •          Calcium
  •          Fiber
  •          Vitamins B1, B9, B12
  •          Vitamin D
  •          Vitamin E

But research shows many people don’t get enough of these nutrients on a daily basis. For example, just 30 get enough vitamin B12.

What are some food sources of these nutrients?

  •          Omega 3 fatty acids: fish, flaxseeds, walnuts, kale, brussels sprouts
  •          Magnesium: dark leafy greens, nuts (cashews, peanuts, almonds), brown rice
  •          Calcium: dairy products, dark leafy greens, chia seeds, sardines, tofu
  •          Fiber: raspberries, pears, whole wheat pasta, lentils, artichokes, green peas
  •          Vitamins B1, B9, B12:

o   B1: beef, liver, oranges, oats, legumes

o   B9: legumes, citrus fruits, bananas, grain products

o   B12: beef, chicken, eggs, fish and dairy.

  •          Vitamin D: sun exposure, fortified cereals and fortified OJ, egg yolks, mushrooms
  •          Vitamin E: sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, safflower oil

Vegetarians, in particular, need to be very proactive about their vitamin B12 levels, as B12 is found predominantly in animal foods.

If you are unable to meet your dietary needs through food, supplementing is also an option. You may want to ask a doctor for his or her recommendation, because supplements are not very regulated. You will want to choose a product that has been researched and that meets high standards (our doctors can help!)

How do you know if you are getting enough of these brain-essential nutrients?

If you have depression, consider getting your nutrient levels tested to see if you have a deficiency. It’s as easy as coming in for a blood test, and then getting a comprehensive (and easy-to-understand) report when your results come back.

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. To learn more about the pH Health Care Team, click here.