Today, I’m celebrating World Mental Health Day by sharing 10 of the best vitamins for mental health.
Every year, October 10th is World Mental Health Day. It’s a global day aimed at providing mental health recognition, education, and advocacy. The goal is not only to raise awareness for mental health issues, but also to decrease social stigma around it.
Seeing as World Mental Health Day falls on the date 10/10, I thought it would be a fun idea to give you a list of 10 best vitamins for mental health.
*NOTE: It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before adding any vitamins or supplements to your diet.
10 Best Vitamins for Mental Health
In a perfect world, we would get all the necessary nutrients with our meals alone. But for most of us, that’s a bit unrealistic, so adding a dietary supplement, like a daily vitamin, can be really beneficial.
Vitamins are good for your body, of course, but many of them are also good for your brain. Certain vitamins have even been shown to improve mood and decrease anxiety and stress levels.
Low levels of Vitamin C can cause a decrease in dopamine (also known as the “feel good” chemical.) Thus, people who are deficient in this vitamin, often feel depressed, fatigued, or anxious. The good news, though, is that adding Vitamin C can do the opposite!
Vitamin C is also great for your skin and your immune system. Plus, it’s relatively easy to get enough of. Aside from a pill, Vitamin C is found in a lot of foods:
- Citrus fruits – Oranges, lemons, grapefruit
- Kiwi and Strawberries
- Bell peppers
- Broccoli and Cauliflower
You can get natural Vitamin D from the sun. But, of course, that means that if you wear sunscreen or spend a lot of time indoors, you’re probably not getting enough. There’s also a lot less sun now that it’s Autumn, and come winter, it’ll be even worse.
Low levels of Vitamin D are heavily linked to depression (one big reason why some people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD in the winter).
For many people, the best way to get enough Vitamin D is to take a supplement. But it’s also found naturally in some foods:
- Milk and dairy products (including yogurt)
- Salmon and Tuna Fish
- Fortified cereal
One of the absolute best vitamins for mental health is a B-complex supplement. Those typically contain a number of different B vitamins, including B12 and B6.
B6 is especially beneficial in reducing feelings of stress and anxiety. B12, on the other hand, can help with energy levels, mood, and memory. You can find B vitamins in various foods as well:
- Green Peas
- Brown Rice
According to some, Omega-3 is the gold-standard of supplements. In fact, it’s been shown to be one of the best vitamins for mental health.
Omega-3 is great for brain health – it helps improve memory and brain function, especially for older adults. It’s also good for lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, and depression.
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, include:
- Salmon, Tuna, Herring, and Mackerel
- Cod Liver Oil
- Flaxseed and Chia seeds
- Kidney Beans
- Brussels sprouts
- Almonds, Cashews, Peanuts
- Whole Wheat
- Dark Chocolate
- Black beans
- Meat (beef, chicken, pork)
- Fish and seafood
- Chickpeas, Lentils, and Beans
- Pumpkin seeds, Squash seeds, Flax seeds
- Almonds, Cashews, Peanuts, Pine nuts
- Milk and Eggs
- Dark Chocolate
L-Theanine is an amino acid that can improve cognitive function, attention, sleep quality, and mood. It’s also been shown to help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, which can greatly improve mental wellbeing.
L-Theanine is found in green and black tea. It can also be found in certain types of mushrooms.
Green Tea Extract
Because green tea has a high level of L-Theanine, it would make sense that drinking green tea would help. But, if you’re not a huge fan of the taste, try green tea extract instead! It also doesn’t have any caffeine, so you can take it without worry.
Green tea extract can also help with reducing headaches and belly fat along with your stress levels.
Ashwagandha is an herb that ancient cultures often used for medicinal and healing purposes. Lately, people have found similar benefit in taking ashwagandha supplements.
Some of the reported benefits include lowered levels of stress and anxiety, decreased feelings of depression, improved sleep, improved attention and memory, and improve muscle strength.
Rhodiola rosea is a perennial plant that grows in parts of Europe and Asia. Like Green Tea extract and Ashwaganda, people can take Rhodiola in supplement form to reap the benefits.
Rhodiola can help with fatigue, stress relief, concentration, energy, exercise performance, and, yes, depression.