Depression (avsaad in Hindi) is a serious type of mood disorder that ranges from mild to severe. Medications and counseling are conventional ways to treat depression. At present, natural methods of managing their health problems are popular among people. However, some herbs and supplements may also help to alleviate the symptoms of depression because as per results of researches, level of vitamins, magnesium and serotonin go down in many cases. These supplements certainly help to reduce the symptoms of mild to moderate depression.
Natural Supplements to treat Depression:
1. Vitamin B-12 & its Supplements:
Vitamin B-12 plays an important role in maintaining optimal mental health. Findings of some researches show that vitamin B, like vitamin B-12, thiamin (B-1), and niacin (B-3),- play an important role in alleviating symptoms of depressed mood and other mental disorders. In case of lacking of these vitamins, you may take its supplements because it is hard to get enough vitamins from diet, especially in vegetarian diet. Vitamin B-12 helps to protect nervous system; meat, eggs and dairy products have vitamin B-12 in good amount. The person, who are vegetarian, should include more yogurt, cheese, low fat milk, fortified plant based milk, eggs, fortified cereals, nutritional yeast in his diet. There are more options of vitamin B-12 rich foods for non vegetarians, such as- Salmon, beef, Sardines (fish), Tuna (fish), fortified cereals, fortified non dairy milk and dairy products.
2. Vitamin B-6 and B-9 & Its Supplement:
People, who are in depression, also have deficiency of vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) and B-9 (folate). These vitamins play an important role in metabolizing tryptophan into serotonin. Therefore, people should include more and more vitamin B-6 and B-9 rich food in their diet to overcome depression. Some of the vitamin B-6 and B-9 rich foods are- whole grains, fortified cereals, legumes, spinach, turnip greens, shellfish, salmon, beef, chicken and turkey.
3. Vitamin D and Minerals Supplements:
Deficiency of Vitamin-D and essential minerals such as- calcium, zinc, magnesium etc may also cause depression. Many studies have directly linked the deficiency of vitamin D to depression. Vitamin D is essential to absorb calcium; human body produces it naturally during exposure of skin to sunlight. It is so simple and easy to get this vitamin, just been 15 minutes in the direct sunlight; our body manufactures vitamin D very easily. However, supplements may also be the best solution for the deficiency of vitamin-D to alleviate symptoms of depression because it is difficult to obtain it from the food.
Likewise, deficiencies in a number of minerals such as- calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, manganese and potassium, have also been associated with depressive mood. Therefore, include the foods which are rich in these minerals, in your daily diet. Beans, fortified cereals, green leafy vegetables, almonds, meat products, fish and poultry products are some examples of minerals rich food.
4. Omega-3 Fatty acids:
Intake of Omega-3 fatty acids rich food is also good to alleviate symptoms of depression. Actually, omega-3 is essential for brain to function properly. Fish oil is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA; therefore it also helps to alleviate symptoms of depression. A study showed (Archives of General Psychiatry) that the person who consumed one gram of fish oil every day, had a 50% decrease in depression symptoms. Oily fishes like Tuna or salmon are very rich in omega-3 acids; egg yolks also contains omega-3. As far as vegetarians are concerned, walnuts, chia seeds and flax seed (alsi) are also rich in omega-3 acids.
5. Tryptophan & Its Supplements:
Tryptophan may also cause depression; it is generally found lower in people of depressed mood. Actually, L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid because our body can’t produce it. It is naturally found in animal and plant protein and essential for the development and functioning of many organs of body. Tryptophan is believed to be responsible for the production of an important neurotransmitter, serotonin that transmit signals between nerve cells. Serotonin also believed to reduce the feelings of depression. Pumpkin seeds, peanut butter, peanuts, sesame seeds, soya, fish, poultry products are some examples of foods containing tryptophan.
6. SAMe- S-adenosylmethionine:
SAMe is a molecule that is formed naturally in the body. However, SAMe can also be made in the laboratory; its dietary supplement remains available in the market. If the body doesn’t produce SAMe naturally, people can take its supplement. S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) is involved in the formation or activation of certain chemicals in the body which may alleviate symptoms of depression too.
7. GABA- Gamma-aminobutyric acid:
Gamma Aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a amino acid that is occurred naturally in the brain from glutamate. It works as a neurotransmitter that helps to send messages between brain and nervous system. Researches show that it could play a role in many health conditions like anxiety, insomnia and depression; especially in depression, it plays an important role. Natural calming effects of Gamma-aminobutyric acid may help to reduce symptoms of depression. Findings of a research shows that depressed patients had significantly lower level of GABA in comparison to normal subjects. (1)Findings of another study from the Department of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine also proved the direct or indirect effect of GABA on the people of depressed mood. (2)
All the information given above is only for knowledge purpose. Keep in mind that one should not take supplements od SAMe, GABA, Tryptophan etc without the monitoring of a health professional.