By Isabelle Huot
In Canada, about 11 per cent of men and 16 per cent of women will experience a bout of major depression at some point in their lives. And according to a national survey, one in five Canadians has had a diagnosis of at least one mental-health concern (such as major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder) since the start of the pandemic.
While no single food in itself can replace medication, certain food choices or nutrients can help make the world a brighter place.
Found especially in grain products and root vegetables, carbs help to stimulate serotonin (the neurotransmitter for well-being). Incorporating one or two servings of grain products into each meal is recommended. Whole grains provide valuable fibre, which feeds the micro-organisms of the microbiota, and a diverse microbiota means better mental health.
2. Vitamin D
People who are depressed have lower vitamin D levels. Could this vitamin have a positive effect on mood? Studies haven’t yet confirmed whether people are depressed because they go outside less, meaning they have less exposure to the sun, a source of vitamin D, or because they’re already lacking in this vitamin. We do know that vitamin D confers many benefits for immune and bone health and for preventing colon cancer.
People who eat more fish experience less depression than those who eat less fish. The effect is due to omega-3 fats, which positively affect mood and are found especially in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, sardines, and mackerel.
4. Folates (vitamin B9)
Folate deficiency is common among people with depression. Folates help to synthesize serotonin and thus help prevent depression. Green vegetables, legumes, offal meats, and sunflower seeds are rich in folates.
5. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 helps to regulate homocysteine; high levels of this amino acid are linked to a higher risk for depression. Some of the best sources are offal, clams, oysters, fatty fish, beef, and veal.