Mental health has always been crucial but it’s ever more stressed in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The world suddenly faced uncertain times and people have to deal with self-isolation, lockdowns, social distancing, and many other precautionary measures.
With all these abrupt changes and uncertainty, TIME reported in mid-2020 that the rate of depression in America skyrocketed. A pandemic can be considered a traumatic event. In the heat of COVID-19, those who experienced pandemic-related stressors such as financial lack, job loss, or death of a loved one are most likely the ones who succumb to depression.
You Are What You Eat
However, many other factors contribute to depression. These can include lack of sleep, exercise, mindfulness, social support, etc.—the lack of these has commonly been causing the disease even before the pandemic. But what people know less about is that nutrition can greatly affect their mood too.
You may well be familiar with being cranky when you’re hungry. Just as your body needs energy from food or beverages, your brain also needs fuel or nutrition from the right sources. Lacking nutrition, both your body and mind take the toll of deterioration.
Somehow, it’s true that you are what you eat. To put it specifically, your mind works according to what you feed it with. With the right lifestyle and diet, it’s possible to maintain a healthy mental state.
Perhaps, the secret for fewer trips to therapies lies in feeding your brain with the nutrition it needs. Be more conscious about the nutritional deficiencies that cause the most common mental disease, depression, and learn what kinds of foods to include in your diet for a mental health boost.
The Lack Is the Solution: Stave off Depression by Treating Nutritional Lack
Keep your brain healthy by tracking what nutrients you lack and focusing on consuming those nutrients via food, beverages, or supplements. Take note that your body may not be able to absorb the nutrients by mere diet, so ask your doctor whether you should take certain supplements. Be sure to inform your trusted home health agency too to implement changes in your diet. Here are some nutrients you need:
Vitamin D and Calcium
Vitamin D and calcium goes hand in hand. The former, taken from diet and sunlight, helps the body to absorb and use calcium. But during the fall and winter season, most Americans tend to become deficient in this crucial vitamin, which is then highly linked to dementia, autism, and depression.
Foods that are rich in vitamin D include red meat, liver, oily fish especially salmon, egg yolks, fortified foods, and even mushrooms. Taking supplements is a better way to absorb the vitamin. Ideally, get the recommended daily international units (IUs) of vitamin D which range from 5,000 to 10,000 IUs.
Calcium deficiency is more apparent in women than men, with calcium and vitamin D being the major treatment for any PMS-related mood fluctuation. This means women need to take special care of meeting their daily calcium requirement, which is 2,500 mg a day for those between 19 and 50 and 2,000 mg limit per day for people aged 50 and older.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These fatty acids are essential sources for maintaining critical brain function and reduce inflammation. Since your body can’t produce these minerals, you need to take them from your diet or supplements. Omega-3 deficiency shows up as mood swings, fatigue, depression, and memory decline.
You get omega-3 from fatty fish and seafood such as salmon, tuna, sardines, caviar, mackerel, anchovies, and herring. Aside from fish, you can get omega-3 from plant-based oils such as flax seeds, chia seeds, soybeans, and walnuts.
Omega-3 fatty acids can greatly help your mood and memory, even decreasing the risk of suicide and depression, so it’s crucial to keep your levels to the optimum. For higher concentration, you can take supplements that can reach as high as 90%.
Vitamin B Complex
It is common knowledge that vitamin B complexes are related to brain health. It even influences one’s emotions. Lack of vitamin B can greatly damage a person’s mental health. In fact, a study in 2009 even shows that almost every severely depressed woman lacks vitamin B12.
Vitamin B6 helps promote neurotransmitters production, the one responsible for sending messages from the brain throughout the body while vitamin B12 boosts the generation of nerves and red blood cells.
In the short term, vitamin B6 can cause anemia while in the long term, it can lead to confusion, depression, and a weak immune system. Both vitamin B6 and B12 adequate intake help regulate depression. You can get this vitamin B complex either from diet or supplements.
Other Nutrients to Watch Out For
Make sure that you also get enough folate, iron, amino acids, selenium, magnesium, iodine, and zinc. By keeping a close watch on your nutritional intake, you’d be surprised you’ll need fewer visits to a therapist.