We all have days when we wake up in a ‘cloud of gloom’. For most of us, we simply shake it off and move on with the day. For others, this low mood can persist over a long period of time.
Moods and emotions are complex. When it comes to happiness, there are a group of hormones referred to as “feel good hormones” – dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, and oxytocin. They help your brain to evaluate what you are experiencing. These neurotransmitters carry messages between nerve cells which produce positive feelings including happiness, pleasure and to help lift low moods.
There are numerous reasons why these levels of chemicals can be low and addressing nutrition status can often help you get back to feeling your best.
The foods we eat have a powerful influence on our mood. We need an adequate supply of energy (calories) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Unfortunately, many of the foods we consume are severely processed and lack the micronutrients we need for good brain health.
Supplementing with a high quality multi vitamin and mineral supplement such as CAA-Multi will provide these micronutrients and it is surprising how quickly energy returns and the mind becomes clearer and more alert.
B vitamins support energy production in your cells. They are cofactors in the production of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. They have a direct effect on your mood. Most people with low mood respond when simply taking regular B complex vitamins.
About 60% of your brain is made of fat, so it’s no wonder that good fats are crucial for optimal brain function and mood. Supplement with omega 3 - fish oil.
Vitamin D, the ‘sunshine vitamin’ activates an enzyme that converts tryptophan into serotonin. If vitamin D levels are low, our brain makes less serotonin leading to the winter blues. With the shorter days, cold weather and limited sun, I recommend topping up levels. The benefits of vitamin D are greatly enhanced when combined with vitamin K2. These two vitamins have synergistic effects.
5HTP is an amino acid, formed from tryptophan and supports production of serotonin. Naturally sourced from the African plant Griffonia simplicifolia, it is effective for mood disorders, sleep and appetite control and works pretty quickly to boost mood.
DHEA is a steroid hormone mainly produced by the adrenal glands. It plays an important role in mood balance. Given that it peaks in your 20s and declines as you age, taking it as a supplement can have a significant impact on your emotional well-being.
St Johns Wort (hypericum perforatum) – extensively studied, it has been shown to support low mood. It works directly on your neurotransmitters and hormones to support a balanced mood.
Probiotics are a powerful supplement for mental health. The gut which is often referred to as our “second brain” houses bacteria (microbiota) which produces around 80-90% of our serotonin. You can also support gut health with fermented foods.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) - This herb needs no introduction and if you have already tried it, you will know how amazing Withania is for supporting bright mood and bringing the body back into balance through its adaptogenic properties.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a lemon scented herb from the mint family. It supports feelings of happiness and relaxation when taken. Great for a busy mind. Put a few fresh leaves in a cup of hot water and sip the blues away.
Alongside these nutrients and herbs, eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise and sleep and you will wake refreshed and ready for the day.
Some of these ingredients have cautions when taking certain medications, check with your natural health practitioner before use.