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Your Guide to Treating Depression Naturally: Vitamins and Supplements

Mental health issues are a major public health concern in the United States. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 44.7 million adults in the U.S. experienced mental illness in 2020. This represents nearly one in five adults in the country. The most common mental illnesses among adults in the U.S. include major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, and bipolar disorder.

Mental health issues can have a profound impact on individuals, families, and communities. People with mental illness are more likely to experience poverty, unemployment, and homelessness. They are also more likely to be involved in the criminal justice system and to have co-occurring substance abuse disorders. The consequences of untreated mental illness can be severe and long-lasting, and they can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life.

Access to mental health care is a major concern in the United States. Despite the high prevalence of mental illness, many people do not receive the care they need. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 60% of adults with a mental illness did not receive treatment in 2020. Factors that contribute to this include lack of access to care, lack of insurance, and stigma surrounding mental illness. Improving access to mental health care is a critical step in addressing the mental health crisis in the United States.

Vitamins and supplements are sometimes used as an alternative or complementary treatment for depression. However, it is important to note that there is limited scientific evidence to support their effectiveness in treating depression. Additionally, vitamins and supplements are not regulated by the FDA as drugs, and their purity, safety, and efficacy may vary between brands and sources.

Some vitamins and supplements that have been studied for their potential effects on depression include:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: These are found in fish oil and may have anti-inflammatory effects in the brain, which could potentially improve symptoms of depression.
  • Vitamin D: Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with depression and taking vitamin D supplements may help improve symptoms.
  • S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe): This is a compound found in the body that is involved in the production of neurotransmitters. Some studies have suggested that taking SAMe supplements may help improve symptoms of depression.
  • St. John’s Wort: This is a herb that has been traditionally used to treat depression. Some studies have suggested that it may be effective, but more research is needed to confirm its effectiveness.

It is important to note that using vitamins and supplements to treat depression should not be seen as a substitute for professional medical help, and it should be always done under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

It’s also important to note that people who are taking antidepressants or other medications should talk to their healthcare provider before taking any vitamin or supplement, as some may interact with these medications.

It is important to consult with a qualified healthcare professional to determine whether vitamins and supplements may be helpful in treating depression, and to monitor any possible interactions with other medications or underlying conditions.

Vitamins That May Help Depression

Vitamin C: According to research, Vitamin C helps regulate the neurotransmitters of the brain. It helps improve mood by improving dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. The best sources of Vitamin C are found in:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Strawberries
  • Peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Potatoes

Vitamin D: The results of taking this vitamin are mixed. A study conducted among 18,000 participants showed that Vitamin D supplements don’t have effects on boosting mood, but there are still benefits. The best source of Vitamin D is spending time in the sunshine, but you can also get them from:

  • Mushrooms
  • Beef liver
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Oily fish like salmon
  • Fortified products like milk

Calcium: This is a good supplement that helps with depression but according to studies, the evidence for whether calcium truly helps is still inconclusive. Increase your calcium supplements by eating foods like:

  • Dark leafy greens
  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Sardines
  • Soybeans

Magnesium: Research shows that those with low magnesium levels in the body connect to depression. However, there is still no evidence as to how they are related. In a study conducted on 17,000 adults, magnesium supplements were found to be more helpful in women than men. The study also found that taking 500 mg of magnesium for 8 weeks can significantly improve depression. The best source for magnesium can be found in:

  • Avocados
  • Dark chocolates
  • Bananas
  • Tofu
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Legumes

Folate or Vitamin B9: It has long been suggested that folate helps improve anti-depression medications. A combination of folate and Vitamin B12 help ease depressive symptoms. Vitamin B9 is the natural form while folate’s artificial form is known as folic acid. Besides supplements, eating food rich in folate is also essential. You can find folate in foods like:

  • Asparagus
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Leafy greens
  • Fortified grains
  • Peanuts
  • Sunflower seeds

Vitamin B12: It is thought that taking Vitamin B12 with antidepressant medications can improve its potency. Although studies show there’s no new evidence to prove that Vitamin B12 can improve moods, research also showed that low B12 and depressive symptoms are related. So, taking Vitamin B12 supplements and eating foods rich in B12 can improve this. You can find B12 in foods like:

  • Eggs
  • Milkk
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Tempeh

Vitamin B3 or Niacin: These vitamins help synthesize tryptophan into serotonin. Serotonin helps regulate your mood. A combination of niacin with B-vitamins can help as well and is thought to be helpful for mood disorders like Bipolar II. Taking supplements and eating food rich in niacin can significantly improve depressive symptoms. Among the most common sources of niacin are:

  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Dairy products
  • Nuts or legumes
  • Poultry

Probiotics: These are live bacteria or what is known as good bacteria. They help aid your digestion  system and destroy the cells that cause disease. Regularly taking probiotics can improve the symptoms of major depressive disorder within 8 weeks. The best sources for probiotics are:

  • Kombucha
  • Kefir
  • Kimchi
  • Miso
  • Sauerkraut
  • Yogurt
  • Tempeh

SAMe: Also known as S-adenosyl-L-methionine is a natural compound. It is synthesized from methionine, an amino acid found in your diet. According to 40 studies on this compound correlated with depression to show positive results but the evidence is not conclusive. It was also found that SAMe worked better than placebos and helped symptoms of neurocognitive, substance use, and psychotic disorders. Sources of methionine include:

  • Seafood
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Egg whites

Omega – 3 Fatty acids: Show some love to your heart, immune system, and endocrine system with the omegas. Taking omega 2 also shows positive effects on easing depression compared to placebo treatment. In other studies, omega 3 is also safe to consume for pregnant women, children, and aging adults with no side effects. You can take omega-3 supplements or eat them from food sources like:

  • Cold-water fish
  • Chia seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Soybeans
  • Walnuts

GABA or Gamma-aminobutyric acid: GABA is a neurotransmitter produced by the body to help regulate sleep, promote relaxation and prevent depression. Individuals suffering from depression have abnormalities in the GABA system of their brains. Taking GABA supplements has some positive effects on stress and sleep. GABA supplements with exercise and meditation can help improve depressive symptoms. Eating foods that help stimulate GABA in the brain includes:

  • Berries
  • Brown rice
  • Seafood
  • Lentils
  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes

NAC: N-acetyl cysteine is a precursor to L-cysteine. This L-cysteine is an amino acid found in the body, and according to research, this supplement is an adjunctive therapy for treatment-resistant depression. It also helps depression-induced anxiety with favorable results.

Studies show that it can also be used with antidepressant medications but further research needs to be done in this area. If you suffer from depression, supplementing NAC with foods like these is good:

  • Eggs
  • Poultry
  • Legumes
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Yogurt

Creatine: An organic compound found in animal products like milk, red meat, poultry, and seafood, creatine is stored in your muscles and used to build lean muscle mass. It also helps improve your energy, which is why it is a popular sports supplement. According to studies, it also has an anti-depressive effect and works well with major depressive disorder. New research also suggests that increasing your creatine intake helps your brain’s prefrontal cortex improve moods.

Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by our body that keeps our circadian rhythm in check and lets us know when we need to sleep. There are mixed results on whether melatonin helps depression. Some studies found that it helps depression symptoms in people. You can support your melatonin supplement by eating:

  • Cherries
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Grapes
  • Mustard seeds
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes

THE BOTTOM LINE

It is important to note that using vitamins and supplements to treat depression should not be seen as a substitute for professional medical help, and it should be always done under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

It’s also important to note that people who are taking antidepressants or other medications should talk to their healthcare provider before taking any vitamin or supplement, as some may interact with these medications.

It is important to consult with a qualified healthcare professional to determine whether vitamins and supplements may be helpful in treating depression, and to monitor any possible interactions with other medications or underlying conditions.

People suffering from depression or those that have loved ones that are can and should do something about it. It is also best to speak to a healthcare professional to determine what the best treatment options are. They can help guide you to relief of depression and help you better understand what vitamins or supplements can support symptoms. Whatever path you choose, know that there is support out there! Scottsdale Recovery and Detox Center has served as Arizona’s premier addiction center to those locally as well as nationwide for over a decade and we believe mental health matters! We provide a vast array of services to those trying to recover, recognizing that no two people are exactly the same and neither are their addictions.

If you or a loved one are seeking support please connect with the SRC team! We are here to help! Learn more by visiting scottsdalerecovery.com or call 1-888-NODRUGS.

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Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007. Call 602-346-9142.

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