The relationship between what you eat and how happy and calm you are — what I call the "food-mood connection" — is massive. If your diet is poor, your mood will suffer.
The nutritionally depleted wasteland we call the Standard American Diet is a leading culprit in causing this malnutrition, along with the epidemic of anxiety and depression that it results in. In principle the solution is very simple (no, it's not more Prozac :-). Just maintain a diet high in fish, meat, fruits and vegetables, and low in processed foods and added sugar. Do that and you'll feel great. Seems like an easy plan. But in practice ... Face it, few of us have the discipline to stick to such a healthy diet, and we need help. Fortunately, an easy workaround is to simply start your day with the right combination of nutritional and herbal supplements. In this article I'll discuss what you need to be taking to keep your lives on a healthy track — and without the toxicity of psychiatric medications.
Below are the key supplements for maintaining a healthy nutritional base and a calm and happy soul. I not only highly recommend them, I take each of them myself every day.
B Vitamins and Folate
These are critical for proper brain function. Research has shown that supplementing with vitamin B1 improves mood, likely by increasing a brain neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. It also decreases anxiety. A side benefit? It improves your memory. Vitamin B1 deficiency was also shown to worsen learning disorders in young children, and increase aggressive behavior (to the point where, in one study, some children had to be admitted to a mental hospital). This problem resolved with vitamin B1 supplementation. Vitamin B2 has been associated with decreasing risk of postpartum depression, while also decreasing migraine frequency by an astounding 69%! B12 and folic acid have also been shown to be helpful for depression. Ignore the RDAs, which I call Ridiculous Dietary Allowances, and instead I recommend a 50 mg B complex each day. Make sure that some of folic acid is in a form called "5MTHF."
Magnesium is critical in hundreds of reactions in the body, and deficiency is present in the majority of Americans. Low magnesium will put you on a hair trigger for anxiety, as well as for pain. I recommend 200 mg a day.
N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)
Our bodies use NAC to make the critical antioxidant called "glutathione," which has been shown to be helpful in a wide array of psychological problems. For day-to-day supplementation, I recommend 250 mg.
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with many autoimmune problems as well as with depression. The insane advice to avoid this "sunshine vitamin" has triggered an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. I recommend 1,000 units daily.
Omega-3 Fish Oil
Another key cause of depression and anxiety is deficiency of omega-3 fish oils. Unfortunately, it takes seven large capsules a day of most forms to get the proper therapeutic effect. A simpler low-cost solution is a special form of pure omega-3's that have been vectorized (another way of saying that they remain bioidentical) can be found in a product called Vectomega by Terry Naturally. One tablet a day replaces those seven fish oil capsules.
Feeling down? Repeated studies have shown that a special highly absorbed form of curcumin called CuraMed (also by Terry Naturally) taken 750 mg twice a day are more effective than antidepressants in head-on studies. In addition, instead of the side effects of medications, curcumin is associated with side benefits, including reduced pain, improved immune system for better resistance to cancer, and likely reduced risk of Alzheimer's.
You don't need to develop an addiction to Xanax to resolve your anxiety. Taking a special herbal called AnxioCalm (two twice a day) for six weeks has been shown to be as effective at restoring calm as the Valium family of medications. And with no addiction or side effects.
How to Get These Supplements
The first four nutrients (B vitamins and folate, magnesium, NAC, and vitamin D), along with many, many other vitamins and minerals, can be found for just $0.60 a day in a single flavored drink mix called the Energy Revitalization System by Enzymatic Therapy. The last three are available as the individual supplements I discussed. (All can be safely combined with mood medications if you are on any.)
This simple and affordable regimen can leave you feeling fantastic. Try some or all, depending on your particular mood, for six weeks to see the full effect.
It's easy to feel calm and happy—naturally!
Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.