The holidays are upon us and although it is the season to be jolly, more often than not we don’t feel quite so upbeat. Many factors play a role in our mood, including money stresses or spending time with family. But there are other reasons for a downbeat mood, too.
Roughly 5 percent of Americans suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)—also referred to as the winter blues—according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. To boot, up to 20 percent of us suffer from a milder form of SAD as the days get shorter and colder. Even if you don’t specifically suffer from SAD, you may find your mood dip as the days darken.
While many of us rely on coffee to give us a lift, this isn’t the most sustainable remedy. This band-aid may give you a temporary fix, but it doesn’t get to the root of the problem. Left unattended, low energy can take a toll on your immune system, affect mental clarity and your ability to focus. Ultimately, it can sap your motivation to do anything, which is not a good place to be.
Light therapy is a common treatment of SAD. Doctors also recommend getting enough sleep and exercising daily. Eating healthy, and supplementing with nutrients is also important. In fact, nutrient deficiencies play a large role in our blue moods, as they can lead to deficiencies in brain chemicals such as serotonin. So if you feel the blues coming on this winter, consider turning to these vitamins and minerals as well, to help give you a lift.
B vitamins: These essential vitamins help give us energy by supporting our cells and giving them the energy they need to function. The B’s support the central nervous system and help to maintain healthy communication between your muscles and brain. Primarily, they help to convert amino acids into mood-boosting neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and norepinephrine. In doing so, Vitamins B3, B6, B12 and folic acid, in particular, have been associated with fending off depression. Accordingly, low levels of B can leave us feeling blue. B Vitamins are water soluble, so it's important to take them on a daily basis.
Vitamin C: Yes, vitamin C helps keep us healthy, which includes supporting a healthy disposition. Research has shown that taking Vitamin C on a regular basis can help to improve your mood and reduce anxiety.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiencies can also play a role in a blue mood. It’s estimated that in the U.S. alone 70-percent of people are deficient in Vitamin D. Research outlined in the journal Nutrients showed depression to improve in those who took Vitamin D over those who did not.
Amino Acids: Amino acids aid brain function and the production of mood-boosting neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Also known as the building blocks of protein, they play a role in metabolism and maintaining a healthy nervous system. Key mood enhancing amino acids include phenylalanine, glutamine, tryptophan, and tyrosine.
Antioxidants and CoQ10: Antioxidants help to stop free radicals from wreaking havoc on our cells. Free radicals create a pathway to disease. The oxidative stress caused by them is associated with depression. Known to hep protect the brain, studies have shown that CoQ10 also possesses antidepressant properties.
Minerals: Minerals such as magnesium, zinc, chromium and potassium are essential to healthy nerve, muscle, and enzyme function. Magnesium, in particular, is key to muscle maintenance, and helps muscles contract and relax properly. It also plays a role in many enzymatic reactions that support brain function. By helping relax our muscles, magnesium helps us sleep better—another important piece in supporting a good mood. Chromium, on the other hand, is a blood sugar stabilizer, which has been shown to improve depression symptoms. While Zinc helps to keep a healthy happy brain by aiding the metabolism of fatty acids in the brain.
Multivitamins: A multivitamin serves as a check and balance to make sure you are getting the nutrients you need. In the dark days of winter, a multi is one more tool to keep you feeling healthy and happy.