Nutrient deficiency as a cause of depression

The number of depression-related illnesses is on the rise. Scientists predict that depression will be the second most common disease worldwide by 2020. There are several triggers. Sometimes “only” a lack of certain nutrients can be the reason for depressive moods. Not even your favorite food whets your appetite? You have problems sleeping through the night and/or have trouble getting out of bed in the morning? Don’t feel like meeting your friends and have trouble concentrating at work? Loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, listlessness and lack of concentration, are just a few symptoms that can indicate depression. Complementary symptoms may include feelings of sadness and anger, weight loss or gain, and/or unexplained physical pain. Statistics from the University of Vienna show that in Austria alone, more than half a million people are estimated to suffer from depression – and the trend is rising. Women are particularly often affected. And this is not an Austrian phenomenon: the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that depression will be the second most common widespread disease worldwide by 2020, and thus the most common disease in industrialized countries. According to the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG), nearly one in five people will suffer from depression or depressive mood at some point in their lives.

Nutrient deficiency as a cause of depression

Grief, dramatic experiences, the abuse of drugs or stress – they can all be a cause of depression. However, researchers increasingly suspect that nutrient intake also plays a role in depression and that nutrient deficiencies may be the cause of depression. There is a simple explanation for this: If there is a nutrient deficiency, the brain lacks important power elements that are necessary for regulating mood, drive, sleep and concentration – fatigue, sluggishness, irritability and depression make themselves felt. Which nutrients, among others, are ESPECIALLY important for regulating mood and why, we briefly summarize for you.

Important nutrients for a healthy psyche:
  • ZINK
    Zinc increases the production of neurotransmitters and these in turn are responsible for transmitting information between nerve cells in an optimal way. Furthermore, zinc is involved in all metabolic pathways. If there is a deficiency of zinc, this can lead to a reduced number of neurotransmitters and thus to memory impairment, accompanied by fatigue, apathy and other depressive symptoms. Good to know: Since the body does not have a zinc store, zinc-rich foods should be consumed daily.
    Sun makes happy! Sun rays stimulate the production of vitamin D, which in turn supports the production of the happiness hormone serotonin. A sufficient serotonin level in the body ensures good mood and prevents depression. Good to know: Just 15 to 20 minutes of sunlight a day is enough to stimulate vitamin D production in the body.
    Magnesium is involved in numerous metabolic reactions and helps the body activate enzymes needed for the production of the happiness hormones serotonin and dopamine. A deficiency of magnesium thus often leads to depressive mood and inner turmoil. Good to know: Especially salt, coffee, alcohol, sugar and chronic stress plunder the magnesium store.
    Selenium not only supports the work of the thyroid gland, whose function has a strong influence on the psyche, but is also important for brain function. Deficiency can therefore lead to irritability, depression and/or anxiety disorders. Good to know: Selenium also has antioxidant effects and protects the body from free radicals.
  • IRON
    Iron plays an important role in our body’s transport of oxygen and energy – including our brain. If there is a lack of iron, fatigue, loss of appetite, fatigue and poor concentration set in. That puts a damper on the mood. Good to know: Our body needs vitamin C in order to utilize iron optimally. Therefore, always combine iron-rich food with vitamin C.
    Amino acids are jointly responsible for the regulation of neurotransmitters in the brain – especially for the happiness hormone serotonin and norepinephrine, a hormone responsible for alertness and attention. So if the body lacks amino acids, this can lead to dejection, mood disorders and even depression and anxiety. Good to know: Amino acids are assembled into proteins in the various cells of the body. Sufficient amino acids therefore also support the build-up of muscle mass.

At the first signs of depression, we advise you to see a doctor. Among other things, he or she can also check your blood values to determine whether you may have a nutrient deficiency and provide you with additional helpful tips.