Supplements and vitamins that may boost your mood
We all have emotional ups and downs, which are a normal part of life. And so we may experience low moods, stress, or anxiety occasionally.
Mood-boosting supplements and vitamins may help improve low moods including mild depression to moderate depression, stress, and feeling of anxiety.
However, if you are experiencing debilitating anxiety or depression, please seek care from a mental health professional or your healthcare provider. It’s very important to have the guidance of your provider when dealing with mental health problems.
However mood-boosting supplements can help to support a healthy mood. That said though, research is not entirely conclusive on some mood-boosting supplements’ efficacy.
There are indications though that many vitamins and supplements are healthy and effective natural mood boosters.
So if your mood has been off, are stressed, or you are experiencing anxiety, mood-boosting supplements may help.
But remember to ask yourself if there are any areas of your life you should adjust first such as having a healthy diet, sleeping enough, and exercising, or maybe you indeed have a condition that should be treated by a professional.
Taking a dietary supplement can close gaps in nutrition, or help in the regulation of your neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, your happy chemicals, and thus boost your mood.
So, what are the best mood-boosting supplements?
Let’s take a look, shall we?
The best mood-boosting vitamins and supplements
Magnesium is one of the best brain-boosting supplements and for good reason. Magnesium is involved in over 300 metabolic functions in the body including the nervous system.
And the positive effect of magnesium on mood has been evident in many studies.
According to a study in Med hypotheses, in magnesium deficiency, neuron magnesium needs may not be met which may manifest as depression.
Magnesium also modulates several neurotransmitter biochemical pathways that are associated with depression.
A study published in the Journal of Magnesium Research states “personality changes, including apathy, depression, agitation, confusion, anxiety, and delirium are observed when there is a deficiency of this element”.
Furthermore, in animal studies, a diet deficient in magnesium led to depressive symptoms that were reversed with magnesium supplementation.
And while you can get magnesium from diet many people just dont get enough.
In most cases supplementing with magnesium is safe and effective for mood health such as anxiety and depression.
For this use, it’s best to use magnesium glycinate which research shows may have a calming effect, and reduce stress, depression, and anxiety as well as insomnia.
Iron is an essential mineral needed for the production of hemoglobin the molecule that transports oxygen in the body.
Iron facilitates oxygenation of the brain to produce energy for many functions in the brain including neurotransmitter production and function.
And iron is also needed for energy, and myelin synthesis, the coating that protects the nerve cells and enhances nerve function(source).
All these functions of iron facilitate a healthy mood.
Furthermore, depression occurs more in women of childbearing age who are often deficient in iron, and iron deficiency is known to cause fatigue and depressive symptoms as well.
Vitamin D is generally referred to as the sunshine vitamin because it is synthesized when the skin is exposed to the sun.
Beyond strong bones and teeth, vitamin D plays many vital roles in the human body.
Vitamin D helps with immune function, and cell growth, helps to reduce inflammation, modulates gene encoding proteins, prevents cancer growth and severity, and assists in glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity.
And there is research showing that vitamin D also may help prevent anxiety and depression.
Many studies such as a 2008 study on overweight and obese subjects with anxiety and depression, found that supplementing with 20000 or40000 IU vitamin D per week for a year improved anxiety and depression symptoms.
Furthermore, studies show that low levels of vitamin D are associated with depression.
Other studies show an association between vitamin D deficiency and depression in people with chronic conditions such as gout, or conditions such as spinal cord injuries, MS, and fibromyalgia. Understandably, these conditions can cause one to be depressed.
However, being debilitated will also restrict the ability to go outside and benefit from vitamin D from sun exposure.
And while vitamin D may be beneficial for depression and anxiety, there are mixed findings in research so further studies are needed.
However, if you are deficient in vitamin D, and many people are, vitamin D supplements will improve your health and may help improve your mood too. But it is important to have your health care provider check your vitamin D levels to avoid vitamin D toxicity.
Zinc is a trace element required by all organisms for various biological processes and is a component of hundreds of enzymes and proteins. Like magnesium, zinc plays a significant role in over 300 biological processes.
Zinc is required for DNA replication, and transcription, protein synthesis, cell membrane maintenance, cellular transport, endocrine function, and neuronal and immunological function.
And according to studies, there is a correlation between low serum zinc levels and depression, and studies further find supplementation with zinc improves depression, especially in treatment-resistant depression.
Zinc is highly regulated in the brain with greater concentrations of zinc occurring in the amygdala, hippocampus, and cortex.
According to the study referenced above, it appears that a zinc deficiency affects neurogenesis in the hippocampus, an area of lifelong neurogenesis.
And this is because a decrease in zinc leads to a decrease in BDNF a growth factor that promotes the growth and differentiation of neuron cells.
A decreased BDNF was associated with major depressive episodes research finds.
Zinc can be obtained easily from the diet in foods such are meat, fish and poultry, dairy, and some nuts and beans. However, a deficiency can occur due to old age, dietary habits, chronic illnesses, and medications such as:
- steroids, other anti-inflammatories, and numerous cardiovascular medications( source).
In these cases, zinc supplementation may be appropriate following the guidance of your doctor.
B vitamins are some of the best mood-boosting supplements.
The vitamin B complex vitamins consist of the vitamins:
- B1 thiamine- helps the cell break down carbohydrates for energy, and also plays a role in muscle contraction and nerve cell signals (source).
- B2 riboflavin metabolizes carbohydrates, fats, and protein into glucose for energy, and is also an antioxidant important for the proper functioning of the immune system
- B3, niacin- is important in energy metabolism and is also involved in cellular signaling DNA synthesis and repair. Niacin is also involved in the metabolism of serotonin from tryptophan and a deficiency can lead to depression. In fact, a deficiency in niacin leads to the four Ds-depression, diarrhea, dementia, death
- B5 pantothenic- is also used in energy metabolism. B5 also helps in the production of cortisol. It is important for mood, memory, and cognition. B5 also regulates serotonin and a deficiency can lead to low mood, and problems with memory and mood.
- B6 pyridoxine- is involved in over 100 metabolic reactions and supports brain metabolism and a healthy nervous system. B6 is involved in the breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats for energy. B6 also helps with cognitive function, maintaining appropriate homocysteine levels, and a healthy brain and nervous system.
- B 7 biotin: like other B vitamins, biotin is important for energy metabolism
- B9 folate: According to an article published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry supplementing with folate may help alleviate depressive symptoms. That is because folate is involved in the production of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. And research shows that folate plays a critical role in the brain’s metabolic pathways. Plus researchers have also found that depressive symptoms are the most common neuropsychiatric signs of folate deficiency.
- B12 cobalamin: According to a 2021 study in Nutrients vitamin B12 and folate are critical for brain function and act as cofactors in the conversion of homocysteine to methionine an amino acid involved in several methylation processes in the body needed to synthesize lipids, proteins, nucleic acids, neurotransmitters, and hormones.
According to a 2009 study, a deficiency in B6, B12, and B9 (folate) as well as omega-3 fatty acids is associated with depression.
And the reason, according to the study is because B6, B12, folate, and omega 2 fatty acids participate in the metabolism of S-Adenosylmethionine or SAM.
And as a methyl donor, SAM contributes to many functions in the nervous system, especially in the formation of neurotransmitters, myelin sheaths, and nerve receptors.
When these vitamins are deficient the result is elevated homocysteine and at least 45-55% of people with depression have elevated homocysteine.
Plus this dysfunction causes a cascade of other problems in the brain including oxidative stress and neurotoxicity causing various disorders such as depression.
Omega 3 fatty acids are important to a healthy brain affecting our mental health. And as such they are among the best mood-boosting supplements.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential healthy fats that the body cannot make and therefore must be obtained from our diet.
These healthy fats are a group of unsaturated fatty acids that include, DHA, EPA, and ALA.
The best sources of both DHA and EPA omega3s are oily fish like salmon, and mackerel, while ALA is usually from plants such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, soybeans, and nuts.
So consuming foods high in omega-3 fatty acids is a great way to get these healthy fats, however, you may not always manage to eat fish or other omega-3 sources.
But it is easy to take a good quality fish oil supplement that contains both EPA and DHA.
Omega-3 fatty acids have many health benefits including heart health, brain and eye health, and reduced inflammation.
And several research studies including this 2018 study found a relationship between low omega-3 fatty acids and depression.
A 2009 study on patients with bipolar depression and major depression found a significant improvement in symptoms with omega-3 supplementation.
According to the study, subjects benefited from EPA compared to placebo.
And while there is evidence in research that omega-3 fatty acids may improve mood disorders, further research is still recommended.
SAMe is S- Adenosyl-L -Methionine, a naturally occurring chemical in the body involved in over 200 metabolic pathways.
SAMe is commonly found in all cells.
Research has found that SAMe has some positive effects on depression. Infact, according to Mental Health America, it is used in many countries such as Germany, Italy, Spain, and Russia as a prescription anti-depression, and has been used in Europe to treat depression for over three decades.
Rhodiola has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to stimulate the nervous system, treat depression and fatigue induced by stress as well as boost physical performance, and increase energy levels.
Rhodiola is also used to, boost physical performance, boost longevity and improve anemia.
The extract from the Rhodiola rhizome acts as an adaptogen that mitigates the effects of stress on the body.
Studies show rhodiola performs a dual function of cognitive stimulation and a calming effect with both immediate and long-term preservation of brain function.
According to a 2022 study in the journal Molecules, rhodiola has clear benefits as an adaptogen and is able to enhance resilience to physical and mental stress while normalizing the body’s functions.
And in another randomized controlled study cited in Molecules, 91 people with mild to moderate depression, treated with rhodiola extract showed a significant improvement in depression scores as well as improvement in insomnia and emotional instability.
Probiotics are healthy gut bacteria that not only help break down food but also provide many other health benefits.
Probiotics keep a healthy balanced microbiota, boost the immune system, prevent inflammation, ease irritable bowel syndrome, and even prevent atopic dermatitis (source).
And gut bacteria may also influence mood because according to research, several compounds such as GABA, serotonin, catecholamines, and acetylcholine are reported to be microbially derived.
And according to research, these neurotransmitters produced by gut bacteria induce gut cells to release molecules that modulate the nervous system function.
In fact, studies on the gut-brain axis show increasing evidence that gut bacteria can influence the central nervous system.
And a 2017 systemic review of several randomized studies shows that probiotic supplements may help to improve mood, including depression and anxiety, and perceived stress.
The good thing is, it is easy to include probiotics in your diet by consuming fermented foods such as kefir, kimchi, sugar-free yogurt (no added sugar that is), and prebiotic foods.
Additionally, you can take a probiotic supplement to boost your mood health.
St. John’s wort also known as hypericum perforatum is a flowering shrub native to Europe. St. John’s wort is one of the most well-known supplements for mental health, especially depression.
According to Mayo Clinic St. John’s wort is effective in treating mild to moderate depression, but not as effective in treating major depression.
In fact when it comes to treating mild to moderate depression, st, johns wort was effective as some SSRI antidepressant prescription medications according to a 2017 review of 27 clinical trials.
John’s wort increase serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, compounds in the brain known to improve mood and fight symptoms of depression.
However, serious interactions can occur when St. johns wort is used with other medications. Do not take St. John’s wort if you are taking another antidepressant because a serious condition called serotonin syndrome can occur and is life-threatening.
Always check with your doctor before supplementing with St. Johns Wort or any other supplement.
Ginko biloba is native to China and is one of the oldest trees on Earth. Ginko is reputed to be effective in the treatment of many conditions including cognitive and memory improvement in the elderly, as well as improvement of blood circulation.
Ginko Biloba may also be effective as a mood booster supplement.
A 2018 study on 136 patients with depression found that ginkgo biloba had a synergistic effect when used with an antidepressant and also the time of action was much faster with ginko supplementation than with an antidepressant alone.
Research studies show ginkgo may be effective in the treatment of dementia as well as boost cognitive functioning and stabilize mood in cognitively impaired elderly patients.
Also, in a randomized controlled study of 107 patients with GAD, ginkgo was effective in improving anxiety in people with mental decline.
Ginko also had efficacy on anxiety in younger subjects with GAD as well. and the study found that ginkgo was significantly superior to a placebo in treating generalized anxiety.
Saffron is a spice from the crocus sativa flower and is a member of the lily family.
Saffron spice is made from the stigma and styles parts of the flower which are dried to make the yellow spice.
Saffron has many health benefits which according to research, is due to its powerful antioxidant properties.
These antioxidants fight disease and even prevent such diseases as cancer, and heart disease.
Randomized double-blind clinical trial studies show that saffron also has antidepressant benefits.
In fact, two separate studies found that 30 mg of saffron for 6 weeks was effective in the treatment of depression with one study finding efficacy for mild to moderate depression.
Other studies found that saffron supplementation was also effective in the treatment of major depressive disorder.
The effect of taking 30mg of saffron was similar to taking Fluoexetin(Prozac) and Imipramine 40 mg a day (source).
Additionally, a 2013 study published in the Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science found that supplementing with saffron increases dopamine and glutamate in the brain showing why saffron improved depression as indicated in many research studies.
Valerian use dates as far back as the first century AD. And there are over 200 valerian species but valerian officianalis is the most well-known.
The most common use of valerian is to relieve nervous tension and to improve sleep making it one of the best mood-boosting supplements.
A 2021 study in the Oman Medical Journal found valerian improved sleep, anxiety, and depression in patients with anxiety.
Of course, these results are not limited to patients with these conditions.
In other words, valerian may help improve your mood because when your mind is calm, and your sleep well, you generally feel good.
But how exactly does valerian improve mood? According to research, valerenic and valerenol acids in valerian act on GABA receptors in the brain. This increases GABA in the brain, a chemical compound known to boost relaxation and sleep(source).
So taking a valerian supplement may help you feel calmer, decrease your depressive mood and help you sleep better.
L. theanine is an amino acid commonly found in black and green tea and is known for its calming effect on stress and anxiety.
A 2017 clinical study found that administering 250 mg a day for 8 weeks to patients with major depression provided many benefits including improvements in symptoms of depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances.
According to research published in the Journal of Herbal Pharmacology, L.theanine increases dopamine, GABA, and serotonin levels, which helps to improve mood health.
Furthermore, a randomized clinical trial in the journal Nutrients found that L. theanine actually reduced the stress hormone cortisol, and lowered stress levels.
A 2015 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that administering 200mg of L. theanine improved sleep quality, and not by sedation like some sleep aids, but by anxiolysis, and the study found L. theanine was safe and effective sleep aid.
And this, of course, improves mood because when you sleep well you feel better overall.
Other healthy ways to improve mood
Taking a mood-boosting supplement is one great way to improve your mood and mental health.
However, there are other lifestyle changes you can make that will have a positive impact on your mood as well.
So here are a few other steps you can take today to start improving your mood, your brain health, and your overall health.
1. Sleep enough
Sleep is crucial for mental health. And so to ensure a good mood, try and sleep enough and well every night.
You know how tired and moody you feel when your sleep is not optimal, yet so many people still don’t sleep enough or well enough.
For most people, 7-8 hours is enough.
To achieve optimal sleep, you must make sure that a few things are in place such as a cool and comfortable bedroom, sleeping at the same time every night, avoiding blue light, and having a calming bedtime routine.
Also taking some natural supplements to enhance sleep will help you sleep better too.
These may include calming teas like valerian tea, lavender, passion flower, and camomile tea.
See this list of the best teas for stress and anxiety.
Eating healthy foods known to enhance sleep is another great way to improve sleep and your mood health. And for the most part, if you are eating right and getting all your vital nutrients, you may not even need to take any mood-boosting supplements.
Try these 11 best foods for good sleep.
2. Avoid chronic stress
No one wants to feel stressed, so stress is not a choice we make.
So stress cannot be avoided altogether, but it can be minimized.
And failing that, we can devise ways to cope with stress by establishing healthy routines.
Routines that include meditation, exercise, yoga, journaling, and saying affirmations are all great ways to cope with stress and minimize its effects on mental health and mood.
Other simple things to minimize stress include planning, detoxing our lives, and decluttering.
Avoiding procrastination is also important to mitigate overwhelm by trying to do too many things all at once or in a hurry.
But generally, when life gets crazy, the best option is to learn ways to cope with stress.
Here is a guide on simple ways to cope with stress.
Exercising is one of the best natural ways to improve your mood naturally. We have heard of the runner’s high, that nice euphoric feeling we get after a good exercise.
Exercise that raises your heart rate helps your body to release endorphins, the feel-good neurotransmitters that give you a feeling of lightness and joy boosting your mood.
So make the effort to include exercise in your daily routine.
Even a brisk 30 minutes daily will help to boost your mood.
4. Eat healthily
A poor diet can lead to mental health problems, including anxiety and depression.
Many of the mood supplements mentioned in this post include vitamins and minerals that can be obtained from a healthy diet.
So if you start eating foods that elevate your mood you may not even need the supplements.
The trouble is the Western diet is so lacking in healthy micronutrients, and that causes overall health problems including diabetes, heart disease, and even mental health such as anxiety and depression.
Of course, diet is not the only cause of these mental health problems but poor diet contributes to their occurrence and severity.
As mentioned, we need B vitamins, vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, and many other vitamins and trace elements to keep our minds working well and to have a healthy mood.
So start eating more natural healthy food every day.
5. Avoid excessive use of social media
If your mood is suffering, you may need a social media detox.
Social media can suck you into a vortex of melancholy.
And if you are not in a good head space, scrolling on social media makes you feel even worse.
Plus the comparison game that ensues may cause your mood to plummet even more.
So as part of your self-care, try a social media detox.
Instead of scrolling, read a book, or engage in a healthy hobby.
In fact, why not give yourself a social media detox challenge and see how much better you feel, and even how much more you improve your life?
Final words about mood-boosting supplements
First, it is important to evaluate what is going on in your life to see if you can get to the root of your low mood, stress, or anxious feelings before reaching for a supplement.
Adjust your life habits and routines including eating healthy.
And before you start on supplements be sure to see your healthcare provider.
And keep in mind that many supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration so do your due diligence.
Read reviews and buy products that have been tested by a third party.
When these elements are in place, then you can try mood-boosting supplements to help with any nutritional gaps or help with resilience to deal with stress, overcome issues such as seasonal affective disorder, and improve your daily mood.
And while research is still ongoing, there is enough information showing that many mood-boosting supplements can help alleviate certain moods such as anxiety and depression and even help with hormonal balance.
But please note that these mood-boosting supplements are not to take the place of the treatment of any conditions including anxiety and depression.
They can however be an adjunct as long as your doctor approves such as a treatment plan.
Your well-being is important, both physical and mental, and including a mood-boosting supplement is a great way to improve your mood.
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