10 nutritional deficiencies that can cause depression and mood disorders

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

Depression affects around 14.8 million adults in the U.S. That's around 7 percent of the entire population aged 18 and over.

What we usually don't realize, however, is that nutritional deficiencies can play a rather large role in maintaining and regulating the well-being of our mental health.

In an exclusive guide below, we'll go through 10 of the most commonly known deficiencies that can weaken brain function and memory, as well as aggravate levels of stress and anxiety.

There are, of course, countless signs you can spot on your body that will warn you of a nutrition deficiency in your system.

So it would be wise to look out for these symptoms, but it's even more important to make appointments with your doctor for regular checkups during the year.

Scroll further to start the list of risky nutritional deficiencies, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Maya Borenstein For LittleThings

Doctors always stress the importance of omega-3 fats — and for good reason! They help to maintain your brain cell health.

Without it, trans fats will enter your neural system, causing inflammation that can lead to disorders in your mood.

You can find this nutrient in fatty fish, egg yolks, flaxseed oil, walnuts, and dietary supplements.

2. B Vitamins

Maya Borenstein For LittleThings

B vitamins — vitamins B6 and B12 in particular — are known for many health benefits. They can help reduce the risk of strokes, support nail growth, and moisturize skin — but they can also greatly affect your moods.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a deficiency in B vitamins may greatly affect your mental health. A large percentage of depressed older women found to be deficient in vitamin B12.

You can find incredible amounts of B vitamins in seafood, leafy greens, bananas, fortified soy products, bran cereals, and red meat.

3. Folate

Maya Borenstein For LittleThings

According to mental health expert Therese Borchard, those who lack folate in their systems respond very poorly to antidepressant treatments.

On average, adults need at least 400 mcg of folate daily, and many doctors have even started prescribing something called Deplin, a folate, to treat depression in their patients.

Foods that include high folate levels include: cooked beans and lentils, spinach, avocado, broccoli, and tropical fruits.

4. Zinc

Maya Borenstein For LittleThings

Zinc is one of the all-purpose nutrients that is needed to maintain the health of almost every part of your body.

In addition to supporting your immune system and bowel movements, zinc also balances mental health.

It is crucial in the production and function of neurotransmitters, according to dietician and nutritionist Doug Cook.

Excellent sources of zinc include: cooked lean beef short ribs, toasted wheat germ, spinach, pumpkin seeds, and dark chocolate.

5. Selenium

Maya Borenstein For LittleThings

Doctors say that selenium is required for healthy thyroid function, and, in effect, mental well-being.

This is because selenium is used to convert inactive thyroid hormones to their active form in the liver, where it's used to make antioxidants and detoxifying compounds in your body.

You can find abundant sources of selenium in foods like sunflower seeds, whole wheat bread, tuna, Brazil nuts, pork, and oysters.

6. Magnesium

Maya Borenstein For LittleThings

Approximately half of the American population is deficient in magnesium.

This is because we ingest relatively high levels of alcohol, sugar, sodas, antibiotics, and sodium, all of which can decrease levels of magnesium.

Experts often refer to magnesium as the "stress antidote," a powerful mineral that helps your body relax, according to Mark Hyman, M.D.

You can find a wonderful amount of magnesium in soybeans, lentils, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and dried fruit.

7. Vitamin D

Maya Borenstein For LittleThings

Many people find that they become more depressed and moody during the winter months.

We're exposed to lower levels of sunlight during the winter, and, as a result, many people experience a slight deficiency in vitamin D — which has been linked repeatedly to depression, anxiety, and seasonal affective disorder.

The National Institutes of Health suggests that on average, adults should get about 600 IUs of vitamin D a day.

You can find good amounts of this nutrient in oily fish, portobello mushrooms, cod liver oil, and tofu.

8. Iodine

Maya Borenstein For LittleThings

Like selenium, iodine is required for correct thyroid function.

It helps boost your immune system, brain performance, memory, and regulate your body temperature. Above all, the nutrient is crucial for maintaining mental health.

You can find iodine in raw cheeses, iodine-enriched salt, dried seaweed, potatoes, cranberries, canned tuna, fish sticks, and shrimp.

9. Iron

Maya Borenstein For LittleThings

According to the CDC, iron deficiency is common in women of childbearing age.

In fact, around 20 percent of women lack iron, and up to 50 percent of all pregnant women need more iron in their diets.

Iron deficiency can result in an insufficiency of red blood cells, which can cause anemia, fatigue, and brain fog.

Great sources of iron include mussels, clams, nuts, squash seeds, soy products, chicken liver, and nuts like cashews and almonds.

10. Amino Acids

Maya Borenstein For LittleThings

Amino acids are crucial to maintaining a healthy state of mind. Unfortunately, there are nine amino acids that our bodies cannot naturally produce.

Like many other nutrients listed above, amino acids help balance the neurotransmitters in our brains, and reduce fear, anxiety, panic attacks, and stress.

Good sources of amino acids include eggs, lean meat, dairy, and plant-based protein sources.

Please SHARE if you know someone who might have a vitamin deficiency!

More from LittleThings.com:
Army captain gets to see his quadruplets born using 'Facetime'
Newlywed couple has amazingly cute surprise dance performance
8-day-old conjoined twins become the youngest ever to be successfully separated
Huge beautiful horse meets a tiny fluffy cat for the first time

Read Full Story

Sign up for Best Bites by AOL and receive delicious recipes delivered to your inbox daily!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.