If you’ve been feeling low, have ongoing depression, or are concerned about the mood of a loved one, a half dozen oysters might be in order.
Don’t like oysters? That’s okay. You can get the 12 essential nutrients proven to boost your mood from many foods. See the whole list below.
Proper Nutrition is Critical for Mental Health
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 264 million people worldwide suffer from depression and anxiety. During the pandemic, rates of depression and anxiety are skyrocketing, especially among young people. This news report says one of every four youths is struggling with depression; one of every five is struggling with anxiety.
Nutrition is not a fast-fix, cure-all, or alternative to prescriptions. Food is not the top solution for a mental health crisis. However, proper nutrition is so critical to mental health that doctors created an Antidepressant Food Score (AFS) to show which foods offer the most help preventing and treating depressive disorders.
Drew Ramsey, MD, a nutritional psychiatrist who wrote, “Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety: Nourish Your Way to Better Mental Health in 6 Weeks,” and his colleague Laura R LaChance, MD, created the AFS after studying nutrients that affect depression.
Getting more of these nutrients in your diet can help boost your mood, regardless of your age. Plus, they're foods recommended on the Mediterranean Diet for heart health.
12 Mood-Boosting Nutrients
Dr. Ramsey and LaChance found these 12 nutrients to be antidepressants: Folate, iron, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), magnesium, potassium, selenium, thiamine, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, and zinc.
“The highest scoring foods were bivalves such as oysters and mussels, various seafoods, and organ meats for animal foods,” the study reads. “The highest scoring plant foods were leafy greens, lettuces, peppers, and cruciferous vegetables.”
Vegetarians and vegans don’t despair. Although some of the best mood-lifting foods are meat, Dr. Ramsey says the foods you need the most are vegetables like watercress, spinach, greens, herbs, and other leafy and cruciferous veggies. Check out the whole list of antidepressant foods in their study and see what you can add to your diet.
Again, nutrition is not a stand-alone cure for depressive disorders, it’s a complementary therapy. If you or someone you know is in a mental health or substance abuse crisis, please call the US Department of Health and Human Services hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).