We all know that a balanced diet is important to our health but did you know that it can also help fight the mental health issues that are so common today?
It's a fact that nutrient deficiency causes anxiety, depression and low energy. People who take care of themselves are less likely to suffer from poor mental health. In fact, they are more likely to have more energy and be more productive.
There are many reasons why this happens but one thing that stands out is diet. If you eat well, you will be healthier and happier than those who don’t. At this point, I would highly suggest you keep reading if you are struggling to get a hold of your mental health.
Symptoms of Nutrient Deficiency
Nutrient deficiency still has a number of obvious physical symptoms like inflammation, body aches and stress which show up in the later phases but mental health issues like depression which leaves you with a low mood, sadness and irritability.
You might also struggle with low energy, short attention span, anxiety, brain fog and low productivity which are signs that your body has run out of some vital nutrients needed for the over 100 million chemical and biochemical reactions that occur in our bodies every minute.
Being deficient in nutrients can make you feel anxious or unproductive. But there are simple things you can do to fight poor mental health and unproductivity by getting the right nutrients everyday through the right meals.
The right meals contain the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamins and minerals. Vitamins help your body build cells, repair cells and make sure everything runs smoothly in your body.
Minerals help your body function properly by keeping nerves working properly, muscles working properly and bones strong enough to support your body weight during exercise or mental stressors like exam season or job interviews.
Vitamins and food sources that can improve your mental health and boost productivity
Omega-3 fatty acids
This vitamin is actively involved in calcium absorption in the gut as well as the regulation of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that mediates satisfaction, happiness and optimism. It is sometimes called the "happy hormone"
Scientific evidence through a number of studies suggests that there may be a link between depression and vitamin D deficiency. Consistent increase of vitamin D in the body through the right diet has been shown to ease depression symptoms.
Food sources of Vitamin D
Fortified soy or oat milk
Fortified almond milk
Vitamin B9 & B12
Some B vitamins like B6, B9 and B12 work hand in hand to metabolize homocysteine, a chemical our bodies use to make protein. They work by breaking down the amino acid to the proper levels of protein needed.
A deficiency in these vitamins can lead to excess homocysteine which affects brain functioning and leads to mood swings and depressive symptoms.
Food sources of vitamin B12
Seaweed or mushrooms
RDA = 2.4 micrograms (mcg) for an adult and 2.6 mcg for breastfeeding moms.
Vitamin B9 (Folate) is naturally occurring in many foods. It's involved in cell division, DNA and different biological processes and a deficiency in this nutrient leaves you with depressive symptoms.
Low levels of folate have also been linked to serious health issues like heart disease, stroke, cancers and birth defects.
Getting too much of the synthetic form of these vitamins which is through supplements may have harmful effects so food sources are highly recommended!
Food sources of vitamin B9
RDA = 400 mcg
Food sources of Magnesium
Green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, collard greens, mustard greens, broccoli, cabbage)
Legumes (chickpeas, peas, soybeans)
Food sources of Iron
Food sources of Zinc
Whole grains like wheat, oats, rice and quinoa
Food sources of Omega-3 fatty acids
Food sources of Manganese
Food sources of Selenium
Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower)
In as much as you can try to incorporate all these foods into your diet daily, there's a recommended daily allowance for these nutrients and going above it can be dangerous.
A proper meal plan from a Certified Plant based coach who takes into account your health history and tastes would benefit you better and make sure you are not nutrient deficient or struggling with an excess of any of the nutrients.
My weekly or monthly meal planning service is OPEN for the new month and going for a discounted price of $140 instead of $200. You get $60 OFF when you purchase NOW.
Planning your meal ahead of time prevents poor decisions:
You can even eat any kind of food you want whether ice cream, cookies or cakes when you plan properly. You get to do it the healthy way and at the comfort of your home!
"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food"
On a final note, ensure you schedule yearly blood checks with your doctor to see your nutrient status in order to ensure you get the proper quantity. Where need be like in some cases, you can supplement Vitamin D and B12 as advised by your primary healthcare provider.