Diet & Vitamins

Depression

Most healthy adults can meet their nutrient needs through adequate consumption of whole foods. That includes a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans also urge consumption of healthy fats such as olive oil in place of saturated and trans fats.

One of the reasons for focusing on a well-rounded diet is that nutrients have a synergistic effect. We need them all to work together. We are also still learning about the benefits and harmful properties.

Thus, consumption of a varied, whole foods diet provides individuals with the most benefit and lowest risk of harm. Here’s a link to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which gives more good background: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/dietaryguidelines.htm

Studies have shown that many people with depression as well as other emotional issues lack most of the essential vitamins. Below is a table with benefits of nutrition on cognition and emotions.

There are not any supplements that have been proven as a treatment for depression, but Saint Johns Wort is the most prescribed treatment for depression in Germany.

Table: Nutrients  and the cognitive and emotional effects.

Nutrient Effects on Cognition and Emotion
Omega-3 fatty acids Amelioration of cognitive decline in the elderly(van Gelder, Tijhuis et al. 2007);
Basis for treatment in patients with mood disorders(Wu, Ying et al. 2004); Improvement of cognition in brain injury in rodents(Freeman, Hibbeln et al. 2006);Amelioration of cognitive decay in mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease(Calon, Lim et al. 2004; Hashimoto, Tanabe et al. 2005)
Curcumin Amelioration of cognitive decay in mouse of Alzheimer’s(Cole and Frautschy 2006)

Amelioration of cognitive decay in brain injury in rodents(Frautschy, Hu et al. 2001)

Flavonoids Cognitive enhancement in combination with exercise in rodents(Wu, Ying et al. 2006); improvement of cognitive function in the elderly(van Praag, Lucero et al. 2007)
Saturated fat Promotion of cognitive decline in adult rodents(Letenneur, Proust-Lima et al. 2007), aggravation of cognitive impairment after brain trauma in rodents(Wu, Molteni et al. 2003); exacerbation of cognitive decline in aging humans(Molteni, Barnard et al. 2002)
B vitamins Supplementation with vitamin B6, vitamin B12 or folate has positive effects on memory performance in women of various ages(Bryan, Calvaresi et al. 2002);

vitamin B12 improves cognitive impairment in rats fed a choline-deficient diet(Sasaki, Matsuzaki et al. 1992)

Vitamin D Important for preserving cognition in the elderly(Przybelski and Binkley 2007)
Vitamin E Amelioration of cognitive impairment after brain trauma in rodents(Wu, Ying et al. 2004); reduces cognitive decay in the elderly(Perkins, Hendrie et al. 1999)
Choline Reduction of seizure-induced memory impairment in rodents(Holmes, Yang et al. 2002); a review of the literature reveals evidence for a causal relationship between dietary choline and cognition in humans and rats(McCann, Hudes et al. 2006)
Combination (C, E, carotene) Antioxidant vitamin delays cognitive decline in the elderly.(Wengreen, Munger et al. 2007)
Calcium, zinc, selenium High serum calcium is associated with faster cognitive decline in the elderly(van Vliet, Oleksik et al. 2009);

Reduction of zinc in diet helps to reduce cognitive decay in the elderly(Schram, Trompet et al. 2007)

Lifelong low selenium level associated with lower cognitive function in humans(Ortega, Requejo et al. 1997; Gao, Jin et al. 2007)

Gao, S., Y. Jin, et al. (2007). “Selenium level and cognitive function in rural elderly Chinese.” American journal of epidemiology 165(8): 955-965.

Copper Cognitive decline in patients with Alzheimer’s disease correlates with low plasma concentrations of copper(Pajonk, Kessler et al. 2005)
Iron Iron treatment normalizes cognitive function in young women(Murray-Kolb and Beard 2007)

 

 

 

B-vitamins help in combating depression and anxiety by enabling the proper functioning of neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are involved in the regulation of mood and emotion. Continuous consumption of these vitamins therefore helps in increasing the levels of “feel good” neurotransmitters like serotonin and S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e). Low levels of vitamin D has shown an association with psychiatric illness (Berk, Jacka et al. 2008).

 

An interesting fact on fish consumption is that Japan is one of the highest fish consuming countries with one of the lowest rates of depression. Unfortunately it is also true that Japan has one of the highest suicide rates. One conclusion that can be drawn is that one supplement will not fix everything.

 

There are not any supplements that have been proven as a treatment for depression, but Saint Johns Wort is the most prescribed treatment for depression in Germany.

 

Calon, F., G. P. Lim, et al. (2004). “Docosahexaenoic acid protects from dendritic pathology in an Alzheimer’s disease mouse model.” Neuron 43(5): 633-645.
Freeman, M. P., J. R. Hibbeln, et al. (2006). “Omega-3 fatty acids: evidence basis for treatment and future research in psychiatry.” The Journal of clinical psychiatry 67(12): 1954-1967.
Berk, M., F. N. Jacka, et al. (2008). “Is this D vitamin to worry about? Vitamin D insufficiency in an inpatient sample.” The Australian and New Zealand journal of psychiatry 42(10): 874-878.

Bryan, J., E. Calvaresi, et al. (2002). “Short-term folate, vitamin B-12 or vitamin B-6 supplementation slightly affects memory performance but not mood in women of various ages.” The Journal of nutrition 132(6): 1345-1356.
Frautschy, S. A., W. Hu, et al. (2001). “Phenolic anti-inflammatory antioxidant reversal of Abeta-induced cognitive deficits and neuropathology.” Neurobiology of aging 22(6): 993-1005.

Gao, S., Y. Jin, et al. (2007). “Selenium level and cognitive function in rural elderly Chinese.” American journal of epidemiology 165(8): 955-965.
Hashimoto, M., Y. Tanabe, et al. (2005). “Chronic administration of docosahexaenoic acid ameliorates the impairment of spatial cognition learning ability in amyloid beta-infused rats.” The Journal of nutrition 135(3): 549-555.

Holmes, G. L., Y. Yang, et al. (2002). “Seizure-induced memory impairment is reduced by choline supplementation before or after status epilepticus.” Epilepsy research 48(1-2): 3-13.

Letenneur, L., C. Proust-Lima, et al. (2007). “Flavonoid intake and cognitive decline over a 10-year period.” American journal of epidemiology 165(12): 1364-1371.

McCann, J. C., M. Hudes, et al. (2006). “An overview of evidence for a causal relationship between dietary availability of choline during development and cognitive function in offspring.” Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews 30(5): 696-712.

Molteni, R., R. J. Barnard, et al. (2002). “A high-fat, refined sugar diet reduces hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor, neuronal plasticity, and learning.” Neuroscience 112(4): 803-814.

Murray-Kolb, L. E. and J. L. Beard (2007). “Iron treatment normalizes cognitive functioning in young women.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 85(3): 778-787.

Ortega, R. M., A. M. Requejo, et al. (1997). “Dietary intake and cognitive function in a group of elderly people.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 66(4): 803-809.

Pajonk, F. G., H. Kessler, et al. (2005). “Cognitive decline correlates with low plasma concentrations of copper in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.” Journal of Alzheimer’s disease : JAD 8(1): 23-27.

Perkins, A. J., H. C. Hendrie, et al. (1999). “Association of antioxidants with memory in a multiethnic elderly sample using the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.” American journal of epidemiology 150(1): 37-44.

Przybelski, R. J. and N. C. Binkley (2007). “Is vitamin D important for preserving cognition? A positive correlation of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration with cognitive function.” Archives of biochemistry and biophysics 460(2): 202-205.

Sasaki, H., Y. Matsuzaki, et al. (1992). “Vitamin B12 improves cognitive disturbance in rodents fed a choline-deficient diet.” Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior 43(2): 635-639.

Schram, M. T., S. Trompet, et al. (2007). “Serum calcium and cognitive function in old age.” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 55(11): 1786-1792.

van Gelder, B. M., M. Tijhuis, et al. (2007). “Fish consumption, n-3 fatty acids, and subsequent 5-y cognitive decline in elderly men: the Zutphen Elderly Study.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 85(4): 1142-1147.

van Praag, H., M. J. Lucero, et al. (2007). “Plant-derived flavanol (-)epicatechin enhances angiogenesis and retention of spatial memory in mice.” The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience 27(22): 5869-5878.

van Vliet, P., A. M. Oleksik, et al. (2009). “APOE genotype modulates the effect of serum calcium levels on cognitive function in old age.” Neurology 72(9): 821-828.

Weng, Y. I., P. Y. Hsu, et al. (2010). “Epigenetic influences of low-dose bisphenol A in primary human breast epithelial cells.” Toxicology and applied pharmacology 248(2): 111-121.

Wengreen, H. J., R. G. Munger, et al. (2007). “Antioxidant intake and cognitive function of elderly men and women: the Cache County Study.” The journal of nutrition, health & aging 11(3): 230-237.

Wu, A., R. Molteni, et al. (2003). “A saturated-fat diet aggravates the outcome of traumatic brain injury on hippocampal plasticity and cognitive function by reducing brain-derived neurotrophic factor.” Neuroscience 119(2): 365-375.

Wu, A., Z. Ying, et al. (2004). “Dietary omega-3 fatty acids normalize BDNF levels, reduce oxidative damage, and counteract learning disability after traumatic brain injury in rats.” Journal of neurotrauma 21(10): 1457-1467.

Wu, A., Z. Ying, et al. (2004). “The interplay between oxidative stress and brain-derived neurotrophic factor modulates the outcome of a saturated fat diet on synaptic plasticity and cognition.” The European journal of neuroscience 19(7): 1699-1707.

Wu, A., Z. Ying, et al. (2006). “Dietary curcumin counteracts the outcome of traumatic brain injury on oxidative stress, synaptic plasticity, and cognition.” Experimental neurology 197(2): 309-317.

 

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