Omega 3, Folic acid, B vitamins, Selenium, Zinc and Tryptophan are all anti-depressive nutrients
They are also important brain foods. Sugar and fast food are strongly linked to depression.
One out of every 7 individuals will suffer a depressive episode during his or her lifetime. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by the year 2020 Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) will be the second cause of morbidity worldwide.
Around 150 million people suffer from depression worldwide and this number has increased in recent years. Women are twice as likely to become depressed as men. The highest prevalence of MDD was recorded in France – 21% and the USA – 19%.
Fortunately, there is clear evidence of what constitutes an anti-depressive diet. The US Government’s National Institutes of Health report is quite clear:
“Among all the potential risk factors and triggers linked to MDD, nutrition is possibly the most basic factor and may be the easiest to modify.
“Not only are certain nutrients needed for proper brain functioning, but also others can be harmful, promoting depression. The Mediterranean Diet has been linked to a low prevalence of depression while fast-food consumption has been found to increase the risk of developing and aggravating this disorder, hence the need for nutritional interventions.”
It’s hardly surprising that diet may be the most important intervention, as the production of neurotransmitters needed for proper brain function needs the right nutrients in the right amounts.
The nutrients you need to counter depression
The brain is one of the organs with the highest level of lipids (fats). Grey matter contains approximately 50% polyunsaturated fatty acids of which about 33% belong to the omega-3 family. Being essential fatty acids, they cannot be synthesised in the body, so they must be supplied through diet.
Case-control studies have shown that patients suffering with depression have significantly lower levels of omega-3 and clinical trials have shown the effectiveness of omega-3 as additional treatment for major depression.
In one small study, students who took 2.5 milligrams a day of mixed omega-3 fatty acids for 12 weeks had less anxiety before an exam than students taking placebo.
Omega 3 is especially important in maintaining the integrity of the myelin sheath which encases the neurons in the brain and in protecting the membranes of brain cells themselves against both inflammation and free radical damage.
Amino acids, minerals, vitamins and olive oil
Other nutrients that are anti-depressive are the amino acids tryptophan, tyrosine and glutamine, which help produce serotonin; the minerals zinc, copper, iron and magnesium); B vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid (B9); and olive oil.
Restoring serotonin levels may decrease the symptoms of depression caused by serotonin deficiencies. This can be achieved through a diet that is high in tryptophan. High tryptophan foods include nuts, seeds, tofu, cheese, chicken, turkey, fish, oats, beans, lentils and eggs. All these nutrients – with Omega 3 – are abundant in the Mediterranean Diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, fish and cereals, but low in meat and dairy products.
Sugar and fast food are strongly linked to depression
A diet that is high in refined carbohydrates and sugars is a common factor in depressive illness. The link between fast food and depression has recently been confirmed. Researchers now believe that the global rise in MDD sufferers could well be attributable “to radical changes in the sources of fats consumed in Western diets, where we have substituted certain types of beneficial fats – polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats in nuts, vegetable oils and fish – for the saturated and trans-fats found in meats, butter and other products, such as mass-produced pastries and fast food.”
A large study conducted in six countries established a highly significant correlation between sugar consumption and the prevalence of depression. This is almost certainly because a sugar-rich fast-food diet is strongly pro-inflammatory. And long-term inflammation in tissues, including brain tissues, is now known to be a cause of mental deterioration.
A high intake of sugar may also interfere with the production of neurotransmitters.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can cause depression
Folate (folic acid) and vitamin B12 deficiencies have also been linked to depression.
Patients with depression typically have blood folate levels approximately 25% lower than healthy controls. One study author noted that patients treated with 0.8 mg of folic acid per day or 0.4 mg of vitamin B12 per day showed decreased depression symptoms. Another controlled study has shown that folic acid enhanced the effectiveness of antidepressant medication.
Mineral deficiencies have also been linked to MDD development. Low selenium intake is associated with lowered mood status and zinc levels are lower in individuals with clinically significant depression. Moreover, research shows that the intake of oral zinc can enhance the effectiveness of antidepressant therapy.
Zinc also protects the brain cells against the potential damage caused by free radicals, as do other antioxidants such as vitamins C and E.
The range and levels of nutrients in NutriShield have been set to support optimum brain function.