How Nutrient Deficiencies Impact Mood and Cognitive Function

If you are struggling with poor focus, fatigue, mood swings and low energy levels, it may be a sign that you are not supplying the vital nutrients to your brain. Your brain is central to the entire life experience. The things you see, smell, touch, taste, and feel are processed by the brain and transmitted as nerve signals. Despite its small size, about 2% of the body weight, your brain consumes nearly 20% of the calories for its function . It is a vital organ responsible for many functions in your body. Everything ranging from memory and decision making to feeling happy or sad depends on your brain! For instance, feeling sleepy or foggy after a heavy meal is something most of us experience. A diet that is nourishing and devoid of processed foods keeps your brain alert and mood levels better.

Research shows that your brain’s ability to produce neuro-transmitters like serotonin and dopamine, mood boosting chemicals depends on the nutrients in your food . Plus, the antioxidants from foods help protect your nerve cells from oxidation, and inflammation which confers long term benefits such as a reduced risk for neurodegenerative diseases. This simply means what you eat impacts directly how your brain functions.

Recent studies have uncovered that including specific nutrients in your diet could keep your brain sharp and functioning well even in your senior years. If you wonder what type of nutrients can nourish your brain and keep it healthy and happy, we’ve got you covered!

Vitamin B12: Having low levels of B12 may cause various neurological and mood-related disturbances. B12 is necessary to maintain nerve health and transmitting the nerve signals. A systematic review examined the association between low vitamin B12 levels, neurodegenerative diseases, and cognitive impairment.  By analyzing 17 studies researchers found that low vitamin B12 levels are associated with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease. It was also found that B12 supplements effectively improved brain function in patients with pre-existing vitamin B 12 deficiency.

Folate: Folate is one of the B vitamins that is essential for all age groups. It is a crucial nutrient for a growing fetus during pregnancy because it helps develop a baby’s spinal cord . Folate is one nutrient you cannot do without right from infancy and extending to later years. It is particularly known in the production of S-adenosyl methionine (SAM-e), a universal methyl donor essential for producing nerve chemicals. Studies show that folate, along with B12, is needed to make SAM-e . It is crucial for neurological functions including, mood regulation and stress adaptation. Both folate and B12 were helpful to bring down the levels of homocysteine, a chemical found to be elevated in the blood of people with depressive disorders. In the same review, researchers also found that having low levels of folate was linked to a poor response to antidepressants, and treatment with folic acid was shown to improve response to antidepressants.

Magnesium: Magnesium is a micro mineral and nutrient often ignored in mainstream medicine. It is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Within the central nervous system, it participates in transmission and intracellular signal transduction, which is crucial for regulating brain function and mood. In recent years, a growing body of evidence shows that correcting magnesium deficiency may lead to significant improvement in nerve system health, brain function and mental disorders . Although there is no direct linking evidence that magnesium helps in depression disorders, research over the years show studies with promising results. A 2015 study found that very low magnesium intake to be linked to depression, especially among young adults.

Omega-3: An article published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) states that many studies have found that consumption of omega-3 fats is linked with a lower risk of cognitive or mood dysfunction Omega-3's are hypothesized to promote cognitive health in many pathways; this was elucidated in the 2019 publication in BMJ. Studies show that omega-3's increase membrane fluidity and synaptic function improving the brain’s activity. The ability of the omega-3 fats to ward off inflammation offers nerve protective effects, which helps preserve brain function in senior years. Besides, omega-3 fats also help improve blood flow in the brain and slow the degradation of neural tissue. Given all these benefits, it is suggested that omega-3 fats may influence mood and cognitive function .

Vitamin D: An analysis of 61 peer reviewed articles found that low vitamin D levels are associated with depression, although there was no direct evidence . It is suggested the possible link between vitamin D supplementation in depressive disorders is likely because vitamin D and its receptors are located in areas of brain that are in relation with mood and behavior . A recent 2020 highlights that vitamin D is involved in regulating the serotonin synthesis pathway. Serotonin is the chemical in the brain that influences your anxiety, happiness, and mood levels. Low levels are associated with depression. The same study also highlighted that vitamin D is involved in the regulation and function of oxytocin, a hormone responsible for social interaction, well-being, and anti-stress effects.

Ultra B12-Folate by Designs for Health: Designs for Health has created this unique formula that combines the two crucial B vitamins, vitamin B12 (cobalamin) and folate that help in improving mood, energy levels and brain function. The formulation specifically offers B12 and folate combination in a single capsule hence it stands out from other B vitamin supplements. Both B12 and folate work synergistically, improving methylation and helping to promote balanced concentrations of homocysteine. Imbalances in homocysteine can increase the risk of heart diseases and Alzheimer’s. One capsule contains 680 micrograms of folate and 2000 micrograms of B12. The folate is in the form a patented folate derivative Quatrefolic®, a form that is easily absorbed by the body without having to undergo metabolic steps for processing and absorption. Quatrefolic® is the superior form of supplemental folate, and it is readily available to the body. The B12 comes from equal amounts of adenosylcobalamin and methylcobalamin (MecobalActive®). The recommended dosage is to take one capsule per day or as directed by your provider. The adenosylcobalamin is specifically helpful to support and protect the mitochondria the power hose of every cell in the body, which the methylcobalamin can’t do. Methylcobalamin is the active form of B12 necessary for protecting neurons and nerve cells.

Magnesium Complex by Nordic Naturals: Magnesium is a key mineral that helps support cellular and metabolic health. It helps your heart muscle to function efficiently thereby enables healthy cardiovascular function, blood circulation and brain function. Maintaining optimal levels of magnesium promotes better nerve health, mood and reduces the risk of depression. Nordic Naturals Magnesium complex is a highly absorbable blend of three magnesium chelates - magnesium glycinate (33%), magnesium aspartate (33%), and magnesium taurinate (33%). The formulation is less likely to cause digestive discomfort hence likely more suitable for those with stomach sensitivity. The supplement also uses Non-GMO sources of magnesium and is certified vegan. The recommended dosage is to take three capsules a day to receive the three magnesium chelates.

Vitamin D 5000 IU by Douglas Laboratories: If you are looking for a non-GMO, soy-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free vitamin D supplement, Douglas Laboratories Vitamin D 5000 I.U. is suitable for you. Besides supporting bone, and teeth health, vitamin D offers various health benefits to improve your cognitive function and mood levels. Douglas Laboratories offers vitamin D in its active D3 form, which is well absorbed by the body. The suggested dosage is to take one tablet a day. The product is available in 100 count tablets per bottle.

ProOmega Lemon by Nordic Naturals: Nordic Naturals ProOmega Lemon is a pharmaceutical grade product with no fishy after taste. It offers a total of 1280 milligrams of omega-3s of which 650 mg is EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), 450 mg of DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and 180 mgs of other omega-3’s. ProOmega fish oil is in a natural triglyceride form which is 70% more absorbable by the body than the ethyl ester form found in other fish oils. The supplement provides a daily therapeutic dose of omega-3’s in two easy to swallow lemon-flavored softgels. Besides helping with stellar brain function, and better mood levels, omega-3 fats also support joint flexibility and heart health. Nordic Naturals’ patented “nitrogen processing” ensures that the omega-3 fats in each softgel are 100% pure and fresh. In addition to its enhanced flavor, the supplement is third-party tested for safety and efficacy, surpassing all international quality standards. The product is available in convenient packs of 60, 120, and 180 count softgels. It is also sold in liquid form by Nordic Naturals. The recommended dosage is to take two capsules per day with food or as directed by your physician. It is recommended to take two softgels with food twice daily for intense support.