Depression and Nutrition: 11 Nutritional Deficiencies that Cause Depression

By on December 26, 2018 in Depression with 0 Comments

Depression is absolutely not something anyone of us wants to deal with. And I’m sure that many of us know that the issue is a lot serious than it seems to be. Not particularly depression but any mental illness can be caused due to a number of reasons. And one of those reasons is nutritional deficiency that a lot of us don’t really pay attention to. Thus, before getting any anti-depressants, we must also ensure if we are fulfilling the nutritional requirements of our body. We have listed

11 Nutrient Deficiencies that can Make you Depressed

nutrition and depression

Vitamin D

Vitamin D has been linked not only to depression but dementia and autism as well. As sunlight is the richest source of vitamin D, thereby vitamin D levels drop off during the winter and fall months. According to Dr, Hyman, we should get at least 5000 to 10,000 IU (International Units) a day. Whereas, most of the healthy adults get only 600 IUs per day, as per the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Vitamin B complex

The deficiency of vitamin B can negatively affect one’s mental health. Leafy green vegetables, bananas, seafood and poultry are some of the best sources of vitamin B-6. Considering vitamin B-12, it is most commonly found in animal foods like meat, poultry, fish, eggs and milk and also, shellfish like mussels, crab and clams. The recommended intake of vitamin B-6 by NIH is 1.7 mg for adult men and 1.5 mg for women.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in the functioning of brain and reducing inflammation, most importantly memory and mood. Salmon, halibut, tuna, flaxseeds and walnuts should thus be consumed in order to maintain a moderate level of the same. However, you can also take omega-3 supplements in order to fulfil it’s need.

Amino acids

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. It helps your brain to develop and function properly. Beef, fish, eggs, seeds, beans and nuts are some of the best sources of amino acids. The deficiency of amino acids can make you feel foggy, depressed, unfocused and sluggish.


Iodine is vital for the functioning of thyroid which is responsible for your energy, body temperature, growth, metabolism, immune function and brain performance including concentration, memory and much more. Thus, deficiency of iodine also affects the thyroid and can make you feel depressed. In order to get iodine, you can eat dried seaweed, shrimp and iodine-enriched salt.


Selenium is vital for the conversion of inactive thyroid hormone T4 to active thyroid hormone T3. In addition to this, it is also helpful for the antioxidants (glutathione peroxidase) to prevent the polyunsaturated acids from getting oxidized (rancid) in the cell membranes. Brazil nuts is an excellent source of selenium.


Iron deficiency is responsible for causing the most common form of anemia, i.e. an insufficient number of red blood cells. Most of its symptoms like irritability, fatigue and brain fog are related to that of depression. The recommended intake of iron for most adults is 8 to 18 mg per day that also largely depends on age, diet and gender, as per NIH. Red meat, poultry and fish are great sources of iron.


Zinc helps in activating our digestive enzymes which further leads to the breakdown of our food and also prevents food allergies.  More than that, it also helps in the repairment of our DNA, leads to the production of protein, control inflammation and boosts the immune system. As per NIH, the recommended intake of zinc is 11 mg per day and 8 mg per day for men and women respectively.


Deplin is a type of folate that is now prescribed by a number of psychiatrists to treat depression so as to improve the effectiveness of antidepressants. People with deficiency of folate have considerably 7% response to the antidepressants, whereas those with high folate levels have 44% response, as per Hyman. The recommended intake of folate depends from individual to individual. Beans, legumes, citrus fruits, juices, leafy greens are some of the foods that are high in folate.


Excessive alcohol consumption, coffee, sugar, salt, chronic stress, diuretics and antibiotics are some of the reasons responsible for causing magnesium deficiency. Seaweed, greens and beans are the richest sources of magnesium. The recommended daily intake of magnesium is 400-420 mg and 310-320 mg for men and women respectively.


Make sure you get your nutrition levels tested on a regular basis. Also, if you decide to take any supplements, it is important to talk to your doctor about the same, especially if you are on prescription drugs. I do not mean that you need to quit taking antidepressants but it is important to cover up your nutritional deficiencies as well, in order to prevent certain illnesses.

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