With over 350 million people suffering from depression and anxiety, Depression is the most common mental illness globally. Conventional medicine provides psychiatric medications first followed by psychological therapies and other forms of support as a frontline treatment for depression.

However, if the treatment is truly effective, then shouldn’t the rates of disorder and disability come down as a direct consequence of that illness rather than increasing? In the short term, anti-psychotic, anti-anxiety medications, anti-depressants may seem to provide a quick-fix, but in the long term, there have been incidences of relapses and even worsening of the condition at times.

Often an unexplored link to mental illnesses, the power of nutrition, can come to your rescue and offer a permanent long-term solution towards curing anxiety and depression. In this article learn why nutrition matters and understand how nutritional supplements can help to treat depression.

The Dramatic Role of Nutrition

 Neurotransmitters that pass signals between different nerve cells control the working of your brain. Neurotransmitters are like the postman who has an important job to deliver letters from one house to another.

You can strengthen the working of your neurotransmitters by having the right nutrition.  Supplementing with nutrients in the right dosage can yield therapeutic benefits. Typically, buying over-the-counter vitamin pills and supplements will not yield desired outcomes since the dose is relatively lower and so is the breadth of nutrients.

Also, your diet plays an important role in helping to manage depression and anxiety. What you eat and what your body absorbs directly contributes to the nourishment of your brain. The nutrients that you consume in your diet has to cross the blood-brain barrier so that it is able to penetrate the brain and provide nutrition.

A well-nourished body translates to a well-nourished brain and is better able to cope with ongoing stress and recover from illness. Giving micronutrients in the right dosage is a cost-effective way to improve the mental health conditions of depression and anxiety.

The Nutritional Approach to Anxiety and Depression

Your cellular environment affects your brain. The root cause of depression can actually stem due to nutritional deficiency states. This can happen due to decreased intake of nutrients, decreased absorption rate across the blood-brain barrier, defects in enzymes.

The ultimate goal of the nutritional approach to treat depression is to prevent and treat symptoms of nutrient deficiency and regulate or normalize disordered brain metabolism. Here are some key neurotransmitters in the brain followed by the right nutrient supplements that can be beneficial to build the neurotransmitter function efficiently:

Key Neurotransmitters and Its Actions

  • Acetylcholine – Voluntary Movement of Muscles and Memory function
  • Norepinephrine –  Wakefulness or arousal, flight and fight response
  • Dopamine – Voluntary movement, feelings of motivation, wanting, pleasure
  • Serotonin – Memory, Emotions, sleep, temperature regulation
  • GABA – an inhibitor of motor neurons, brain balancer and regulates heart rhythms
  • Glycine – Spinal reflex and motor behavior

Nutrient Supplements for Depression and Anxiety

  1. Amino Acids

The building blocks of Protein, this nutrient helps to build neurotransmitters Dopamine, Norepinephrine and Epinephrine. Amino acid supplements of Tyrosine and Phenylalanine can help to manufacture these prime neurotransmitters naturally. However, these need to be taken in the right dosage with proper consultation and usually consumed away from food, with small carbs or diluted juice in order to be better absorbed and pass the blood-brain barrier.

  1. Tryptophan

This nutrient can help to build Serotonin and Melatonin. If insomnia accompanies depression, this supplement can work the best. Again, you need to have the right dosage usually around 3000-6000 mg per day. A natural food source of Tryptophan is Cashew nuts and having few of them daily can help to regulate the right levels of neurotransmitters in your brain.

  1. Omega 3 Fatty Acid

Omega 3 fatty acids are very important nutrients for the brain as they support the structure and function of nerve cell membranes. They form the outer lining of the cell membranes and if the lining is deficient in this fat layer, neurotransmitters will not be unable to relay the signal to the receptor cells and communicate with each other. They are also able to suppress inflammatory chemicals in the brain.

Another important function of Omega 3 Fatty Acid is that it helps to build proteins called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor or BDNF. BDNF supports the growth of neurons and a low BDNF correlates with depression.

Rich sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acid are Fish Oils, Cod Liver Oil and fatty fish.  You can take 9-10 grams per day of oil as a supplement. Start slow and build on the dosage to let your body adjust to it.

  1. Chromium

This mineral’s claim to fame is through its capacity to enhance insulin sensitivity and blood sugar stability. Another important function of Chromium is that it increases the entry of Tryptophan into the Central Nervous System. It works best for patients who crave for sugar and carbohydrates during the depression.

  1. Niacinamide

Niacin a common nutrition supplement for depression but, as a side effect it usually causes flushing and skin redness. It was used decades back to treat subclinical Pellagra that occurs with Vitamin B3 deficiency. However, Niacinamide the Vitamin B3 in this form does not come with the side effects of Niacin. It works to treat anxiety and enhance the function of GABA. It also increases serotonin levels. Another plus, it works to decrease the lactic acid levels in the blood and helps to convert food into energy efficiently.

  1. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 can be combined with Folate and administered as a supplement. For complete benefits, you can take it at a serum level with high dosage to people who are really deficient. It stabilizes the functions of several neurotransmitters.

  1. Vitamin D3

With the lack of sun and vitamin D during the winter season, depression scores tend to be worse.  The brain has Vitamin D receptors that stimulate the production of various hormones and alters your mood. If you are unable to get enough sunshine to make Vitamin D, you can supplement it.

  1. L-Glycine and GABA

For acute situations, you can directly supplement these neurotransmitters. It helps to antagonize Norepinephrine, the stress hormone and suppress panic attacks. GABA can be taken in the form of PharmaGaba that is manufactured from Lactobacillus Hilgardii that is a friendly bacteria usually used to ferment Kimchi.

Supplementing GABA stimulates the brain alpha waves, a state often achieved by meditation.  In this state, you are relaxed with greater mental focus and clarity. At the same time, it reduces the Beta waves that are associated with arousal, hyperactivity, scattered thought, and nervousness.

  1. Inositol

Made in our Kidneys and the Gut by the intestinal bacteria, it works as a signaling molecule in the nervous system and used by several receptors. It helps to regulate fluid concentrations in the brain and support the function of Acetylcholine. In addition, it is a lipotropic nutrient that benefits the liver.

Unlock the Power of Nutrition

Anti-depressant drugs tend to act as enzyme blockers in the brain. They decrease the functioning of certain enzymes that enable the lesser breakdown of neurotransmitters or prevent re-uptake of neurotransmitters allowing them to be present for communication. They basically keep around what is there.

On the contrary, nutrient supplements act as precursors to neurotransmitters enabling the body to produce more naturally. They build up a new supply of neurotransmitters to replace what is lost and improve their function optimally.

In addition, also include more raw food to your diet so that you can consume nutrients in an organic form and enable better absorption. The natural way to overcome mental ailments is through proper nutrition. Get in touch with a reputable physician to understand how nutritional supplements can be taken in the right dosage to help to you build mental function and keep depression at bay.


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