food & mood

The April issue of Vogue (covered by the gorgeous and talented Rihanna) contains a story about the use of food as a natural alternative to antidepressant medications.   It seems that some doctors are finally considering the nutritional status of a depressed patient when determining the best treatment plan for their patients.  Antidepressant drugs can have serious side effects and can be expensive.  Recent research has found that patients taking 1,200 mg of fish oil a day had similar benefits as those they would see from taking medication.

image by Annie Leibovitz via Vogue

The concept behind the "food-as-antidepressant" theory is that without certain amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) such as tyrosine and tryptophan, we can't make the feel good neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.  Vitamins and minerals like Zinc and some B vitamins as well as the omega-3 fats are also needed for our brains to function optimally.   So whether or not your mood could use a little lift (it was a long winter) or you think there is a serious concern of depression, talk with your doctor and consider what's in your diet.  Try to include more fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds (chia and flax particularly), fish and lean meats.  An omega-3 supplement is another thing you may want to consider as it can be difficult to get enough from the diet if you're not a big fish eater (I take about 2000 mg of Nordic Naturals omega 3 fish oil supplements daily).  Also consider asking your doctor or a dietitian about supplementing with amino acids or B vitamins.  And when in doubt, a little sunshine and a good Rihanna tune can't hurt!

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