The most important vitamins for beating depression

If you mention feeling depressed to your doctor, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll walk out of the office with a prescription for antidepressants. These days, many people are looking for a quick fix to their problems, and doctors are all too happy to dispense these profitable pills. Dangerous and not particularly effective, they ensure a steady stream of future business, whether it’s in the form of prescription refills when you’re not feeling any better and think you need more or through the need for other medications to deal with the side effects they cause.

One far better solution that is rarely mentioned to patients is vitamins. They might not sound like they would be powerful enough to address depression on the surface, but when you consider the fact that vitamin deficiencies can contribute to depression or even cause it in the first place, it only makes sense that correcting such imbalances would have a positive effect on mood.

The truth is that your brain cannot function optimally when it lacks essential nutrients. As Be Brain Fit points out, a healthy brain can be thought of as your first line of defense against mood disorders like depression. Which vitamins should you focus on if you’re dealing with depression?

Vitamin B complex takes top honors

You might have already heard that the B vitamins are great for dealing with the effects of stress. That’s because the neurotransmitters the B vitamins help create can help you maintain a positive mood. In fact, studies have shown that people with depression have low blood levels of some B vitamins. In addition, these vitamins can help slow mental decline and brain aging.

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Vitamin B complex is a great start because it covers all the B vitamins in general, but there are a few in particular that really stand out. For example, Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is needed by your body to create serotonin. If this neurotransmitter sounds familiar to you, it’s because the most popular antidepressants on the market today help increase serotonin levels in the brain – albeit far less naturally.

Studies have also shown that low vitamin B6 levels are linked to depression and chronic inflammation, including the brain inflammation that some experts believe is a root cause of depression. To get this vitamin from food, turn to choices like chickpeas, spinach, sweet potatoes, avocados, fish and poultry.

If you opt for a vitamin B complex supplement, you’ll also benefit from other depression-busting B vitamins. For example, vitamin B9, or folic acid, can affect the brain’s serotonin receptors in a positive way, and it also enhances the effects of some antidepressants.

Meanwhile, vitamin B12 is useful as deficiencies can cause not only depression but also brain fog, anxiety, mental confusion, and memory loss.

Honorable mentions for vitamins C and D

If you thought vitamin C’s benefits were limited to staving off colds, think again: Studies have shown that the vitamin stops the release of cortisol, a stress hormone that increases your vulnerability to depression. In studies, people who took this vitamin reported greater happiness within as little as a week.

Get this vitamin from foods like citrus fruits, kiwis, pineapple, berries, mangoes and papayas. It can also be found in cruciferous vegetables, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes and peppers.

Vitamin D is another standout vitamin when it comes to depression, with studies involving more than 30,000 participants showing a clear link between a vitamin D deficiency and depression. Unfortunately, deficiency in this vitamin is all too common, which could help explain the rising rates of depression.

The best way to get this vitamin isn’t actually from food; some time outdoors in the sun without sunscreen is all you need to trigger its production in your body. The amount of time required varies depending on the time of day, your skin tone, your geographical location, and other factors, but for many people, 15 minutes in the sun three times a week can be enough.

If you’re dealing with depression, you really can’t afford to overlook the connection between vitamins and mood. There’s no way to be certain that taking the right vitamins will be enough on its own to keep your depression in check, but deficiencies could well block you from making any progress regardless of the treatment approach you choose.

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