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Natural Alternatives to Enhance Your Mood

Posted by September 22nd, 2014 in Wellness

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Around 1 in 10 of us suffers from a low mood, but the degree of severity varies considerably. While major depression is a serious disorder that usually requires a combination of medication and talk therapy, making lifestyle changes can help manage milder forms of depression, and these are often recommended by doctors alongside more conventional treatments. For example, exercise shows promise as a lifestyle change that can alleviate depressive disorders. Your choice of foods may also have a significant influence on your mood. The nutrient density of your diet is important, as various vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients play an important role in brain function. A professional assessment of your diet can highlight whether you are deficient in any key nutrients linked to physical and mental wellness, how you could enhance your intake, and whether you would benefit from a dietary supplement. Here are just some of the dietary components and natural supplements that have been associated with an improved mood.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
If you eat little seafood and feel unable to increase your intake, you will likely struggle to get enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. While there are some plant-based sources of omega-3, such as flax seeds, walnuts, and canola oil, it is difficult to meet your requirements through these alone. Your body is not able to efficiently convert the oil from plant sources into the same form found in fish. A deficit in omega-3’s is not only an issue for your circulatory health of your circulation, but also for your mental well-being. A low intake of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with an increased risk of depression, and a recent analysis of the suitability of omega-3 for treating depressive disorders found that they are beneficial to both major depression and milder forms. Several mechanisms are proposed to explain why omega-3 fatty acids may benefit mood, including their positive influence on mood-enhancing brain chemicals and the reduction of inflammation that otherwise adversely affects nerves within the brain.
Amino Acids
Although meat, fish, eggs, beans, and nuts all supply protein, their balance of amino acids varies. It is important to get an adequate supply of all amino acids, as the amino acids all have unique roles within the body, and some play an important part in the production of neurotransmitters. It can be especially difficult for those following a strict vegetarian diet. These signaling molecules are released within the brain and influence your mood, with reduced production potentially playing a role in the development of depression. One of these neurotransmitters is serotonin and a class of commonly-prescribed antidepressants is designed to prolong its action. However, a natural way to boost serotonin is to include plenty of foods rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which include poultry, seafood, and organic soy such as tofu, tempeh, and edamame beans. Tryptophan is essential for serotonin production. Enhancing serotonin levels may also help to guard against some of the issues commonly linked to depression, with substance abuse and addiction related to low levels of serotonin, problems which generally require treatment by a specialist. Tryptophan isn’t the only important amino acid when it comes to depression. Tyrosine is essential for the production of dopamine, another neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of well-being. Good dietary sources include chicken, fish, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Meanwhile, L-theanine can reduce stress and aid sleep, both of which can have a positive influence on your mood.
Magnesium is found in a diverse range of foods, from leafy greens and brown rice to poultry and meat, so if you follow a balanced diet it should be easy to meet your needs. However, if you have a restrictive diet or you suffer from digestive upset, you may be suffering from magnesium deficiency. Magnesium deficiency is associated with various neurological and psychiatric symptoms, so it is not surprising that people with poor intakes of magnesium are more likely to suffer from depression. The exact mechanism by which magnesium may protect against depression is not fully understood, but magnesium is known to play a role in the function of receptors that recognize neurotransmitters in the brain. Magnesium is also vital for energy release, so a deficit of it may impair brain activity. At the same time, magnesium can help support better sleep, and sleep difficulties can adversely affect mood. In fact, poor sleep is both a cause and consequence of mood disorders.
B Vitamins
This group of vitamins plays an important role in maintaining a balanced mood, particularly folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. Folate is abundant in green vegetables, beans, avocados, berries, and citrus fruits. Along with vitamins B6 and B12, it is essential for the production of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Although folic acid supplements are available, some people have a mutation in the gene that enables them to utilize folic acid. If your body is unable to properly process folic acid, taking the active form L-methyltetrahydrofolate is advisable, as the vitamin is already methylated. Besides their rolesin neurotransmitter production, vitamins B6 and B12 also help to maintain the health of your nerves. Vitamin B6 is supplied by red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, vegetables and nuts, while vitamin B12 is available from all foods of animal origin as well as yeast extracts.
Taurine is an amino acid that is naturally found abundantly in the brain and has neuroprotective properties. It promotes inhibitory neuron transmission due to its ability to bind to GABA receptors. The net effect is that taurine helps relax the brain, providing a calming effect.
Inositol is a B vitamin that is an important part of cell membranes, producing signals that aid the transport of neurotransmitters through cells in the body. This mineral is essential to making sure that your brain can properly fire off signals. A deficiency can cause a rise in anxiety, worry, and irritability.
5HTP (5 hydroxytryptophan) supplements provide an amino acid precursor of serotonin, helping to supply the necessary base to increase serotonin production. Serotonin is a brain chemical involved in mood, anxiety, and sleep. Low serotonin levels may cause anxiety, depression, and many eating disorders. Medications such as Prozac, Paxil, and Wellbutrin are selective serotonin uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which increase serotonin levels by blocking an enzyme which removes the serotonin. 5HTP supplements work in a similar way to try to naturally boost the total serotonin levels.
GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid) is one of the main inhibitory neurotransmitters in the brain. This naturally-occurring brain chemical helps calm the brain and provides a means for it to help fight stress. PharmaGABA is a naturally-sourced form of GABA made from the friendly bacteria Lactobacillus Hilgardii. Unlike most standard GABA supplements, PharmaGaba crosses the blood brain barrier more effectively, promoting a more relaxed brain, reducing anxiety, helping achieve a brighter mood, and reducing stress.
L-theanine is an amino acid found abundantly in green tea, which has been shown to increase serotonin and dopamine in the brain. In doing so, L-theanine helps improve stress levels and promotes a sense of relaxation. It also has a protective effect on neurons that are overly stimulated by glutamate.
Ensuring that your diet includes the right foods, key nutrients, and natural supplements can serve as a powerful force for enhancing your mood. How can you know if you’re getting enough? The neurotransmitters found in your brain that determine mood can be measured using urine neurotransmitter testing. To learn more about how you can adjust your diet and supplement regimen for mood enhancement, call Rejuve today at 408-740-5320!

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