6 Mood boosting nutrients for a brighter January

Whether you're suffering from depression, snowed under at work, feel exhausted or hormonal or are just in need of a lift this January, you might feel like hiding under the duvet until you feel better. But wait, the foods you eat can actually help to boost your mood. It's normal to feel a bit down after the festivities at Christmas and New Year - you're back at work, you're busy, and if you're anything like us, you probably overspent at Christmas!

Luckily, there are ways you can boost your mood by eating the right foods - it's all about the nutrients that they contain. If you need a pick-me-up, put down that tub of multivitamins and try one of these 6 mood-boosting nutrients that will soon have you feeling happier!

#1. Chromium

Chromium is a trace mineral which is responsible for your body metabolising food (1). A lack of this essential mineral means your body could struggle to regulate insulin - the result? Complications related to diabetes, such as high blood pressure and changes to your vision.

Find it in:

Broccoli, potatoes, turkey and whole-wheat bread and muffins are all great sources of chromium. Men need around 35mcg a day, for women it's 25mcg.

How will it boost your mood?

Chromium has a role to play in producing chemicals in the brain including serotonin, melatonin and norepinephrine - these are mood regulators that can also help to regulate your emotions and your sleep cycle. Chromium is often used as a treatment for depression.

#2. Iron

Iron is responsible for transporting oxygen around the body - it can also boost muscle strength. Being anaemic (where the body doesn't get enough iron) can leave you feeling tired, unable to concentrate and depressed, and iron-deficiency anaemia is more common amongst women of child-bearing age.

Find it in:

Red meat such as beef is a great source of iron, but leafy green vegetables such as spinach are also an ideal way to boost your intake. Lentils and edamame beans also contain plenty of iron, so try adding them to your soups and stir fries. Men need around 8mg of iron a day, whilst women need 18mg.

How will it boost your mood?

Preventing iron-deficiency anaemia can also help to prevent mood changes, depression and fatigue, leaving you feeling more motivated and ready to take on the world!

#3. Omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids help to boost brain health - did you know that up to 18% of your brain's weight is made up of these fatty acids (2)? Our bodies can't produce these fatty acids naturally, so we need to ensure we're consuming enough foods containing them.

Find them in:

Oily fish such as salmon, trout and herring are ideal sources and experts recommend eating up to two portions a week. Spinach and chia seeds also contain plenty of omega-3s; why not try adding chia seeds to your porridge or smoothie?

How will they boost your mood?

Eating more fish containing omega-3 has been proven to decrease your risk of depression, which is good news all round!

#4. Vitamin B12

This essential element is responsible for creating red blood cells and nerves. Lack of vitamin B12 can lead to mood swings, paranoia, fatigue and depression - sounds pretty nasty! If you're wondering why you're suddenly snapping at your other half more than usual and can't come up with another reason, chances are that vitamin B12 deficiency could be the answer! It's more common to be vitamin B12-deficient if you are vegetarian or vegan, but eating plenty of B12-rich foods can help, as can supplements.

Find it in:

Meat, eggs and fish such as salmon, tuna and trout are good sources of vitamin B12, as are animal by-products such as cheese. Adults need 2.4mcg a day.

How will it boost your mood?

Vitamin B12 can help to regulate depression as it assists the body in synthesising nutrients necessary for healthy brain function, which boosts your mood naturally and can help you to feel happier.

#5. Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps to keep your immune system working, can regulate cell growth and also plays a role in bone health (along with calcium). Vitamin D deficiency could be caused by spending lots of time indoors, so why not work in your garden (if you work from home) or take your workout outside to get some sun. Even on cold wintry days, your body will still soak up vitamin D. Low levels can lead to depression and feelings of sadness.

Find it in:

Eggs, salmon and milk are the best sources of vitamin D - why not combine the three and whip up a healthy omelette for weekend brunch? Adults need 600IU of vitamin D a day.

How will it boost your mood?

Getting more vitamin D could help to fight the blues. It's especially important to get plenty during the winter months when there is less light from the sun (3).

#6. Magnesium

Many of us are magnesium deficient without even realising it, and magnesium is one of the most important nutrients for health, with over 300 roles to play in our bodies. A lack of magnesium could lead to feelings of fatigue, irritability and the inability to concentrate. It could also mean you're more likely to succumb to stress, which could leave you feeling anxious and depressed.

Find it in:

Almonds, cashews and peanuts are excellent sources of magnesium, and nuts in general make a great healthy snack to boost your magnesium levels - or why not spread nut butter on crackers or toast? Spinach and edamame also contain plenty of the nutrient. Men need 400mg a day, whilst for women, 310mg is recommended.

How will it boost your mood?

Magnesium has a role to play in the production of serotonin, the body's 'happy hormone'. In fact, because it can help regulate mood and emotions, you'll often find magnesium in many homeopathic remedies!

Trying to include more of these nutrients in your diet could make a real difference to your mood and your health, and the healthier and happier you feel, the easier it will be to motivate yourself to achieve those fitness goals this year!

READ THIS NEXT: How to deal with negativity towards your healthy choices

Works cited:

  1. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/chromium

  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20079842

  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17383013

  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20450340

Author By Paula Beaton
Date On 14th Jan 2015 at 13:38

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