What do sunflower seeds, okra and lentils have in common? They’re all good for you, and, in this writer’s opinion, downright delicious! But more specifically, these nutritious foods share a vitamin that offers some amazing benefits, including the reduction of depression. Due to its ability to help prevent birth defects, this power-packed nutrient, called folic acid, is often associated with prenatal health. However, folic acid (AKA folate) is often overlooked and undervalued, not only for pregnant women, but for the average person’s heart health, for reduced cancer risk, and for maintaining good mental health. In fact, folic acid intake has been directly linked to the most commonly diagnosed mental condition in America: depression. Depression, a condition that affects more than 9 million Americans each year, causes prolonged feelings of dejection and despondency, can be debilitating, and, in rare cases, result in suicide.
Treating Depression: Depression can be treated with prescription drugs, but these drugs are not always successful in treating the illness and can cause unpleasant and occasionally harmful side effects. As many as 50% of those who suffer from depression do not seek help, not wishing to suffer the stigma often associated with the condition. Fortunately, studies suggest that many mild cases of depression can be naturally alleviated with folic acid rather than with medication.
Fighting Depression with Folic Acid: Research has linked feelings of depression to serotonin, a neurotransmitter, or type of chemical, that occurs naturally in your brain. This chemical helps control specific functions of your brain, such as sleep, memory and mood. Low levels of serotonin can lead to feelings of severe sadness, and, in some cases, clinical depression. Drugs commonly used to fight depression, such as Prozac, contain SSRIs (selective serotonin uptake inhibitors), artificially raise serotonin levels to alleviate feelings of sadness. Studies have shown that people diagnosed with depression often suffer from low levels of folate, which is needed for the production of serotonin. In other words, folic acid can help naturally increase your serotonin levels to alleviate symptoms of depression.
Recommended Dosage of Folic Acid: Certain foods, such as those mentioned above, are rich in folic acid. Orange juice, beets, broccoli, mustard greens and avocados are just a few other food choices that provide .055 mg (milligrams) or more of this nutrient. If choosing to take folic acid supplements, be sure to consume only the recommended adult dose of 1 mg to reap the full benefits of this nutrient, while avoiding any negative side effects that can arise from an excessive buildup of certain vitamins in your body (toxicity).
Consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables and nuts on a daily basis doesn’t just keep your body healthy, it helps maintain good mental health as well. If you suffer from depression and want to avoid clinical drugs to treat the problem, consider folic acid in foods or supplements to help you naturally fight this condition and resume a healthy, happy lifestyle.
- http://news.wustl.edu/news/pages/3388.aspx (serotonin’s link to depression)
- http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/fa/ (recommended dosage)
- http://med.stanford.edu/depression/depression.html (depression facts)
- http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/conditions/anxiety-depression (depression facts, statistics)
- http://healthnews.uc.edu/news/?/5107/ (folic acid’s link to serotonin, depression)
- http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Fabulous_Folate.htm (folate facts)
Originally posted 2013-11-07 16:01:51.