It’s common to feel a little “blue” this time of year.  The holidays are over, schedules have returned to normal, and the days are shorter. There may be another reason for your down mood – nutritional deficiencies. Researchers have found that lacking certain nutrients can contribute to people feeling moody, even depressed.  Mental health is complicated and involves many factors and those with concerns should always consult a physician for a proper and qualified diagnosis. Lacking certain things in your diet contributes to you feeling less than ideal and here are the most commonly found nutrient deficiencies:

Vitamin D is important to your immune system, bones, and brain health.  The best source of Vitamin D is sunlight, which is probably why most people are lacking it in the winter months. Those working long hours indoors are often deficient as well.  This deficiency has been linked to depression, autism, and dementia.

Iodine is necessary for a properly functioning thyroid. The thyroid gland affects the entire body: metabolism, growth, immune function, concentration, and memory. Iodine deficiency was a problem in the past, but iodine enriched salt was developed.  With today’s salt-free diets, many people are once again suffering from iodine deficiency. Processed foods and salty junk food snacks don’t contain iodized salt.

Omega 3 fatty acid deficiencies are found in many people suffering from mood disorders and depression.  Not surprisingly, Omega 3 fatty acids are critical towards brain functioning, especially memory and mood. They also help with pain and inflammation. The body is unable to make Omega 3 fatty acids so you need to eat them or take supplements. They can be found in fish, flaxseed oil, and walnuts. Quality fish oil should be cold processed and free of heavy metals and contamination.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are another nutrient that can’t be made in the body.  There are nine amino acids required for optimal brain function. A deficiency in these causes you to feel unfocused, foggy, sluggish, and even depressed. Since not all foods contain all nine amino acids, you need to eat a variety of foods to supply the body with them. Good sources include eggs, beef, fish, beans, nuts, and seeds.

Half of Americans are lacking in magnesium, which is sometimes referred to as “the most powerful relaxation mineral.” Magnesium is found in beans, greens, and seaweed and it’s not a shortage of them that causes the deficiency.  It’s the American lifestyle of chronic stress, antibiotics, phosphoric acid in soda, and excess of coffee, sugar, salt, and alcohol that decreases our magnesium levels.

Iron and zinc are minerals all required by the body for optimal physical and mental health. Deficiencies in these nutrients can affect the body in ways that mimic symptoms of depression Iron deficiency causes anemia and is more common in women than men, but can affect both genders.  Anemia symptoms are brain fog, irritability, and fatigue. Zinc is crucial to our digestive systems, improves our immunity, and controls inflammation.  Many mood disruptions are brought on by food allergies and zinc works to prevent these reactions.