Now that the holidays are behind us, it is time to settle in for the long, dark winter. Many people suffer from seasonal depression, and so this time of year, more than ever, it is important to make sure your nutrition is supporting your neurotransmitters, especially serotonin.
Here is my basic “food for mood” checklist:
1. Make sure you eat every 3-4 hours, and that you include protein with all your meals. Many people decide to become a vegetarian without paying enough attention to protein. If that is you, make sure you are eating beans, nuts or seeds with every meal.
2. Take Vitamin D every day. This is the “sunshine” vitamin and very important to support your mood. I recommend 2000 iu per day, minimum to maintain your levels through the winter.
3. Eat plenty of good fats, especially the Omega 3 oil DHA found in fish, algae, and nuts (especially walnuts). Studies have found fish oil supplements can improve mild to moderate depression just as good as anti depressants. I recommend a minimum of 500 mg DHA to support your mood.
4. Don’t forget the B’s. B12, Folate and B6 are all critical for your mood pathways. In general, B vitamins are found in whole, unprocessed foods like meats, legumes, whole grains and vegetables.
5. If diet alone isn’t doing the trick, you can try taking 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) at bed to boost serotonin. Try 50-100 mg, and should notice a difference in how you feel in 2 weeks.