10 Nutrients that Can Lift Your Spirits

By Maya Dangerfield / Washington Post / Published January 14, 2014

Foods rich in vitamins, minerals and fatty acids healthful, but studies show they can also increase happiness, lessen symptoms of depression and reduce anxiety.

How can foods improve our moods? It all comes down to the brain. A healthy cognitive system is essential to regulating mood, and certain nutrients have a profound impact on maintaining normal brain function. Researchers have studied the association between foods and the brain and identified 10 nutrients that can combat depression and boost mood: calcium, chromium, folate, iron, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and zinc. Try foods containing these nutrients for a midday pick-me-up, to promote long-term happiness or to ward off the nagging worry that you forgot to lock the front door. (You did remember, right?)

Calcium: The most abundant mineral in the body, calcium plays an important role in maintaining strong bones and healthy blood vessels, and in reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Low levels of calcium may play a role in premenstrual-syndrome-related depression in particular. (Sorry, guys, we couldn’t find data on whether calcium can also regulate mood fluctuations in men.) Calcium deficiency affects more women than men, so women should take special care to meet the daily requirements.

How eating it helps: Found in a variety of sources (nondairy included), calcium is often paired with Vitamin D to help regulate mood fluctuations attributed to PMS. Since estrogen plays a large role in calcium production, calcium consumption may improve PMS-related depression.

About the units used below: Mg (milligram) is the typical unit of measurement for nutrients, and 1,000 mg equals 1 gram. Mcg is the abbreviation for microgram, and 1,000 mcg equals 1 mg.)

Recommended Daily Allowance, or RDA: 1,000 mg per day for adults

Food sources of calcium :

●Collard greens, frozen (1 cup): 357 mg

●Ricotta, part skim (1 / cup): 308 mg

●Yogurt, plain/low fat (3 / cup): 310 mg

●Milk, low-fat (1 cup): 305 mg

●Kale, frozen (1 cup): 179 mg

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