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How your diet may be affecting your mood

Anxiety and depression can be disabling conditions that may prevent a person from living a full life. While every case is different, for some people, a quick review of their diet might be what they need to get back on track.

The connection between food and mood
Woman eating a carrot

Certain vitamins and minerals are vital to our overall emotional well-being, and a deficiency in them can lead to a variety of health problems, including feelings of anxiety and depression. Here are some of the common vitamin and mineral deficiencies linked to mental health.

The B vitamins

The B-complex vitamins are water soluble, so the body can’t store them, and as such, they need to be replenished often by consuming a healthy diet and taking supplements when necessary. Certain medical conditions prevent the body from absorbing nutrients from food, so it’s always advisable to consult with your doctor for treatment when dealing with any health concern, including a suspected vitamin deficiency or anxiety- and depression-related conditions.

B1 or thiamine deficiency

Per the University of Maryland Medical Center, symptoms of a B1 deficiency include depression, irritability and fatigue. Boost your B1 intake by adding tuna, seeds, dry beans and enriched cereals to your diet.

B3 or niacin deficiency

Depression, irritability and nervousness are just a few of several symptoms that can be present with a B3 deficiency, per Chicken, beef, salmon, kale and broccoli are all good sources of niacin.

B12 deficiency

The B12 Deficiency Site lists paranoia, suicidal thoughts and depression among several other potential symptoms of this deficiency. Foods high in B12 include sardines, salmon, fortified cereal and yogourt.

Vitamin D

Recent research suggests a correlation exists between depression and a lack of vitamin D, according to a report by Adding fish and vitamin D–fortified milk and cereals will help add to your vitamin D requirement, as will getting a little sunshine. reports that a person makes 90 per cent of their vitamin D from getting sun exposure.


Iron tells us that numerous studies have shown a link between an iron deficiency and anxiety. To pump up your iron levels, add dried herbs, liver, roasted pumpkin seeds, shellfish and dried apricots to your diet.


Anxiety and panic attacks are just two of several symptoms of a magnesium deficiency listed by the Schachter Center for Complementary Medicine. Spinach, pumpkin seeds, soybeans and halibut are all rich sources of this mineral.

Other minerals

Per Long Natural Health, several mineral deficiencies are linked to depression, including calcium, zinc and potassium. For extra calcium, add broccoli, canned salmon with bones and Chinese cabbage to your diet. To up your intake of zinc, eat some crab, peanuts and roast beef. And for a boost of potassium, incorporate bananas, potatoes and raisins into your food plan.

More on mental health

Ways to cope with anxiety
Are you depressed?
Ideas for a mental health break

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