Do you have anxiety, depression, frequent mood swings, or other mood issues? You are not alone. One in five adults deals with mood imbalances. That’s over 40 million people in the U.S. alone! Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health issues and both are on the rise.1
Many people on the autoimmune spectrum experience mood issues. I know how you feel! Before my diagnosis of Graves’ disease, I had experienced serious anxiety and panic attacks. The good news is that I know how you can improve your mood naturally.
Did you know that your mood is closely connected to the nutrients you absorb? When patients with mood imbalances came to me for help, I always checked for nutrient deficiencies that could have been causing or contributing to the problem.
Finding out what these nutrient deficiencies might be is the first step. Then you can learn the root causes of the deficiencies and begin restoring optimal levels with nutrient-rich foods and supplements such as omega-3, magnesium, vitamins B and K, and a high-quality multivitamin.
8 Nutrient Deficiencies Linked to Mood Imbalances
Here are eight nutrient deficiencies that research has linked to mood imbalances.
Vitamin D deficiency is particularly prevalent in places where there is little sunshine for many months of the year. However, even if you are living in one of the sunniest places in the world, if you are spending most of your day indoors then chances are your sun exposure will not give your body enough vitamin D. A Vitamin D supplement is the only way to ensure you are not deficient. Vitamin D is crucial for various important functions in your body, including the proper absorption of phosphorus into your bloodstream. This is essential for your mental health as it facilitates cell repair and tissue growth in your brain and body, promotes the healthy development of your brain cells, and helps to maintain your memory and cognitive abilities. Low vitamin D has been linked to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or sadness and depression during the darker months of the year. Vitamin D deficiency can also lead to depression2 and panic disorder.3
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
An imbalance between Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids can create mood imbalances and mental health problems. Did you know that the human brain is 60 percent fat? Since your body cannot make essential fatty acids, you need to eat healthy fats to fuel your brain.
If your diet is low in good quality fats such as Omega-3s, then your body can only make low-quality nerve cell membranes. If your diet is high in good fats, your brain can create high-quality nerve cells that support your brain function and mental health. Since Omega-3s enhance B cell activation and select antibody production, they are essential for lowering inflammation in your body.4 As a result, they can enhance your brain function and positive mood. Low Omega-3 can result in depression,5 attention-deficit disorder (ADHD), borderline personality disorder (BPD), and schizophrenia.
B vitamins convert food into fuel, helping your body to stay energized and repair cell damage. They play a role in many areas of your health, including your immune function, digestion, circulation, hormonal health, sleep, nerves, and mood. B vitamins are absolutely crucial for your mental health, reducing stress, and preventing memory loss.6 Vitamin B deficiency has been linked to depression, anxiety, phobias, and other mood disorders.
Magnesium is a powerful mineral for relaxation in the body. Magnesium deficiency can lead to stress, depression, and anxiety. Since our soils have been depleted of magnesium, magnesium deficiency is common even among those who are eating a healthy and balanced diet. It’s even more prevalent among those consuming too much processed food, refined sugar, salt, alcohol, and coffee.7
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Aside from helping your body to build muscles, they are necessary for healthy brain function as well. Deficiency in amino acids has been linked to depression, brain fog, sluggishness, and lack of focus.8
Zinc supports your healthy brain function. It activates your central and peripheral nervous systems. It also plays an important role in neurotransmitter, enzymatic, and hormonal processes. Zinc deficiency has been linked to depression, anxiety, eating disorders,9 and schizophrenia.10
Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional problems in the world. It is especially common among women who have heavy periods,11 are breast-feeding, athletes, picky eaters, vegetarians, and vegans. Iron is essential for the health of your brain and nervous system. Deficiencies can lead to depression, anxiety, poor concentration, ADHD, and irritability.
Although lesser-known than most minerals, selenium is essential to immune health, thyroid function, fertility, and a number of other bodily processes.12 Selenium deficiency has been linked to autoimmune conditions, Hashimoto’s, diabetes, cancer, and mortality. A new study has also linked selenium deficiency to depression and negative mood.13
Causes of Nutrient Deficiencies
Now you understand which nutrients play a key role in your mood. To correct these deficiencies, it is important to learn why you may be lacking these nutrients.
A Nutrient-Poor and Inflammatory Diet
If you are eating a poor diet with lots of processed food, refined sugars, and white flours then your meals are completely devoid of nutrients your body needs to balance your mood. Inflammatory foods, such as gluten and dairy, grains and legumes, sugar, eggs, caffeine, nuts, seeds, and nightshades can cause leaky gut, which leads to poor nutrient absorption and health problems.
An unhealthy diet, environmental toxins, certain medications, and stress can all lead to leaky gut. In leaky gut, tiny holes in your gut lining allow food particles, bacteria, yeast, and viruses to enter your bloodstream. As a result, your body can’t absorb foods properly, leading to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, inflammation, health problems, and mood imbalances.14
Common gene mutations such as MTHFR can reduce your body’s ability to convert nutrients, including B vitamins, folate, and choline to their active form via methylation. VDR mutations can lead to vitamin D deficiency. Mutations that control sulfation can lead to low zinc levels.15
How to Prevent or Overcome Nutritional Deficiencies
You can restore optimal levels of key nutrients in your body by upping your dietary intake and addressing the underlying causes of your deficiencies. Following these steps, you can nourish your body and create a balanced mood and happiness.
Eat a Nutrient-Dense Diet
Getting your nutrients through food is the best method and an essential step for recovery. Following The Myers Way® protocol will set you up for success.
To support your mood and mental health, eat plenty of these foods:
- Vitamin D: fatty fish, grass-fed or pasture-raised meat, organ meats, spirulina, wild mushrooms, and bee pollen
- Omega-3: grass-fed meats, wild-caught fatty fish, flax, and chia oil
- Vitamin B: leafy greens, root veggies, animal protein, fresh and dried fruits, seafood, and avocados
- Magnesium: dark leafy greens, seaweed, figs, fish, avocado, and bananas
- Amino Acids: animal protein (including Paleo Protein powder), and bee pollen
- Zinc: oysters, seafood, lamb, grass-fed beef
- Iron: red meat, shellfish, organ meat, dark leafy greens
- Selenium: garlic, turkey, liver, red meat, spinach, and bananas
Making sure your fridge and pantry are always stocked with nutrient-rich foods can be a challenge. I personally rely on Thrive Market to deliver organic groceries directly to my door to get healthy without the hassle. And if you need some inspiration on how to turn those mood-boosting foods into delicious recipes, my blog has a ton that are FREE for you to enjoy, such as Lamb Chops with Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette, Fish “Taco” Bowl with Mango Avocado Salsa, and Italian Chopped Salad.
You can also find over 150 recipes featuring foods that are packed with the nutrients you need to overcome autoimmunity and support your overall health in my cookbook, The Autoimmune Solution Cookbook. The best part is that it is much more than just a cookbook. It lays out the four pillars of The Myers Way® to help you optimize your diet and lifestyle for preventing or reversing autoimmunity, supporting your physical and mental health, and reclaiming your life.
Repair Your Gut
Although eating a diet of real, whole foods is critical for overcoming any health challenge, it may not be enough if you are dealing with a leaky gut since the absorption of nutrients is the true key to your recovery. As I always say, “You aren’t what you eat, you are what you digest and absorb!”
Repairing your gut will improve your ability to reduce inflammation and absorb nutrients properly. When your body can finally absorb all the nutrients from the good food you eat, your mood will improve as well.
To repair your gut, I recommend using the 4R approach:
- Remove the bad. Get rid of inflammatory foods, toxins, allergens, and gut infections such as Candida overgrowth and Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).
- Restore the good. Add healthy, nutrient-dense foods to your diet. With the help of digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid (HCL), restore good digestion and nutrient absorption.
- Reinoculate with healthy bacteria. Reestablish a healthy gut flora using high-potency, high-quality probiotics.
- Repair your gut. Rebuild the mucosal lining of your gut using collagen and Leaky Gut Revive™, now in a deliciously refreshing new strawberry lemonade flavor!
Learn About Your Unique Genetic Needs
If you are curious about how your unique genetics can cause nutrient deficiencies, you can order a genetic test through 23andme.com. Once you receive your data, you can enter it into one of several third-party tools, such as Livewello or Genetic Genie to check for possible genetic mutations and what they mean to your health.
Add High-Quality Supplements
While eating a nutrient-dense diet is the ideal way to meet all your nutrient needs, the unfortunate truth is that our nutrient-depleted soils, toxic environment, and high-stress modern life make it very difficult to rely on food alone. High-quality supplements can fill the gap and provide you the nutrients you need.
I recommend taking these supplements on a regular basis to correct mood imbalances, reverse autoimmunity, and to achieve total health.
- Multivitamin: Taking a high-quality, daily multivitamin is the building block of optimal health. I’ve specifically designed a multivitamin filled with B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and selenium to support your mood.
- Vitamin D: When supplementing with vitamin D, it is necessary to select a supplement that includes vitamin D3 and K2 as they work together to repair and create health.
- Omega 3: When selecting an Omega-3 supplement it is important that you choose from reputable sources that verify through a third party that they have no detectable mercury in their product.
- Vitamin B: In addition to taking a high-quality multivitamin, If you have one or two MTHFR mutations, my Methylation Support is an excellent choice with pre-methylated B vitamins and other essential nutrients.
- Magnesium: I recommend Rest and Restore Max™ because it assists in maintaining an optimal sleep cycle, helps maintain relaxed muscles, and promotes an alpha brainwave pattern associated with meditation and rest.
Now that you understand which nutrient deficiencies may be causing your mood imbalances, the root causes of these deficits, and how to correct them, you have the power to take back your life. You can reclaim your health, repair your body, and balance your mood by eating a nutrient-dense diet, repairing your gut, understanding your genetic needs, and taking the right supplements.
- The State of Mental Health in America. Mental Health America. 2021.
- Vitamin D and Depression: Where Is All the Sunshine?. Sue Penckofer, Joanne Kouba, Mary Byrn, Carol Estwing Ferrans. NCBI. 2011.
- Vitamin D, Light, and Mental Health. Mats B Humble. ScienceDirect. 2010.
- DHA-Enriched Fish Oil Targets B Cell Lipid Microdomains and Enhances Ex Vivo And In Vivo B Cell Function. Eric A Gurzell, Heather Teague, Michel Harris, Jonathan Clinthorne, Saame Raza Shaikh, Jenifer I Fenton. Journal of Leukocyte Biology. 2013.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Major Depression: A Primer for the Mental Health Professional. Alan C Logan. Lipids in Health and Disease. 2004.
- The Effect of Methylated Vitamin B Complex on Depressive and Anxiety Symptoms and Quality of Life in Adults with Depression. John E Lewis, Eduard Tiozzo, Angelica B Melillo, Susanna Leonard, Lawrence Chen, Armando Mendez, Judi M Woolger, Janet Konefal. NCBI. 2013.
- Magnesium Deficiency Induces Anxiety and HPA Axis Dysregulation: Modulation by Therapeutic Drug Treatment. S B Sartori, N Whittle, A Hetzenauer, N Singewald. ScienceDirect. 2012.
- Amino Acid Balance and Imbalance: I. Dietary Level of Protein and Amino Acid Imbalance. A E Harper. Oxford Academic Journal of Nutrition.
- Zinc Deficiency and Eating Disorders. L Humphries, B Vivian, M Stuart, C J McClain. NCBI.
- Zinc Deficiency Is Common in Sever Psychiatric Disorders. Ole Gronli, Jan Magnus Kvamme, Oddgeir Friborg, Rolf Wynn. NCBI. 2013.
- Iron Deficiency, Cognition, Mental Health, and Fatigue in Women of Childbearing Age: A Systematic Review. Alecia J Greig, Amanda J Patterson, Clare E Collins, Kerry A Chalmers. NCBI. 2013.
- Selenium: What It Does and How Much You Need. Megan Ware. Healthline. 2018.
- Optimal Serum Selenium Concentrations Are Associated With Lower Depressive Moods Among Young Adults. Tamlin S Conner, Aimee C Richardson, Jody C Miller. Oxford Academic Journal of Nutrition. 2015.
- Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Diseases. Alessio Fasano. NCBI. 2012.
- MTHFR Gene Variant. National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.