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Food and Mood, Vitamins & Minerals

Below, an ingredient reference list from Dr. Jean Carper's Food — Your Miracle Medicine and our own picks for meals to make of them.


Protein-rich foods: Low-fat seafood, turkey breast, nonfat milk, low-fat or nonfat yogurt, coffee; boron-containing foods such as fruits, nuts, legumes,broccoli, apples, pears, peaches, grapes.

Why Protein?

Protein breaks down into amino acids when you digest it. The amino acid tyrosine increases the production of neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine, all of which increase energy and alertness.
Why Boron?

There's no official recommended intake for boron, a trace mineral, but its positive effects on brain function have been widely noted; there's more activity in both brain hemispheres when adequate dietary boron is present.

The Lunch of Champions: Warm turkey breast with apple-pear-walnut compote, side of steamed broccoli, coffee.


Thiamin-containing foods: Wheat germ, bran, nuts, fortified cereal, meat; riboflavin-containing foods: almonds, fortified cereals, milk, liver; carotene-containing foods: dark green leafy vegetables, orange fruits and vegetables; zinc-rich foods: seafood, legumes, cereals, whole grains.

Why Thiamin?

Thiamin, or Vitamin B-1, is ideally stored in high concentration in the brain. Deficiencies of it can lead to brain damage.

Why Riboflavin?

Riboflavin, Vitamin B-2, is necessary for red blood cell formation, antibody production, cell respiration, and cell growth, and a deficiency thereof has been shown to cause slowed mental response.

Why Carotene?

Beta carotene, which the body converts into Vitamin A, is an antioxidant and therefore is crucial for sharp memory. The brain generates more free radicals per gram of tissue than any other organ, so brain cells need extra antioxidant protection from toxins.

Why Zinc?

Zinc is one of the most prevalent trace elements in the brain, stored in the hippocampus (which has limbic connections and therefore affects brain function on a larger level.) It's essential for brain development and functioning; low zinc levels are associated with dementia and memory disturbance.

The Total Recall Dinner: Salmon with mustard and dill, sweet potato pancakes, spinach salad.


Beans, pasta, vegetables, cereal, bread, crackers, sweets; folic acid-containing food: spinach and other dark leafy greens, lima beans; selenium-containing foods: brazil nuts, canned light tuna, cooked oysters, sunflower seeds, puffed wheat cereal, swordfish or clams, garlic, chili peppers (which contain capsaicin.)

Why Folic Acid?

About one third of depressed patients are shown to have a diet deficient in folic acid. This deficiency leads to a low serotonin level in the brain. Doses of folic acid, a B vitamin, bring serotonin levels back up to normal.

Why Selenium?

Selenium's mode of action is a mystery for now; those with low selenium levels show a greater incidence of depression, but scientists aren't quite sure why. Supplemental selenium can correct a depressive mood, but an extra dose won't boost mood further.

The Sunshine Supper: A dinner of linguini with clams, with a side of sautéed spinach, white beans, and garlic will send you to bed happier.


Complex carbohydrates, especially potatoes, pasta, bread, beans, and cereals, onions; snacks: honey or sugar, low-fat, high carbohydrate foods such as air-popped popcorn, rice cakes, Cheerios, and other dry breakfast cereals. Avoid caffeine-containing beverages (coffee, black and green tea, colas, chocolate), especially if they are not part of your usual diet - sudden caffeine consumption can make you nervous and anxious. Avoid alcohol.

Why Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates trigger the release of insulin into the bloodstream, and insulin in turn clears all of the amino acids from the blood — except for tryptophan. Without competition from other amino acids, the tryptophan floods the brain, where it's converted into serotonin. The serotonin is a neurotransmitter that combats pain, decreases appetite, and produces calm or sleep.

The Serenest Soups: Hearty Tuscan soups like minestrone and ribollita (a variation on minestrone that includes bread and red onions) are a good lunch for when you're feeling stressed.


Saturated animal fat: Lard, butter, high-fat meat, poultry, fish, cheese and other dairy; alcohol.

Why Fat?

A diet high in saturated fat has been shown in studies to impair a wide range of learning and memory functions; a possible reason for this could be constricted blood flow to the brain.

Why Alcohol?

Alcohol's negative effects on the brain have been well documented — prolonged alcohol abuse can cause the brain to atrophy, and it impairs activity in the brain receptors necessary for memory and learning.


Vitamins and Minerals 

The B Complex Vitamins

"The B-complex vitamins are essential to mental and emotional well-being. They cannot be stored in our bodies, so we depend entirely on our daily diet to supply them. B vitamins are destroyed by alcohol, refined sugars, nicotine, and caffeine so it is no surprise that many people may be deficient in these."

More on each of the B Vitamins

Vitamin C

Subclinical deficiencies can produce depression symptoms, which requires the use of supplements. Supplementation is particularly important if you have had surgery or an inflammatory disease. Stress, pregnancy, and lactation also increase the body's need for vitamin C, while aspirin, tetracycline, and birth control pills can deplete the body's supply.

Vitamin D and Depression

A number of studies report some connection between vitamin D levels and the risk of depression. Low vitamin D levels may be related to depression rather than contributing to the disorder. In addition, an increased risk of depression may be related to several vitamin D–sensitive diseases. source

Vitamin D and Psychosis

"...psychotic patients seem to get remarkably better on vitamin D, and others can reduce the dose of their meds once their vitamin D deficiency is treated. However, the vast majority of patients must stay on meds or they relapse. No one, to my knowledge, has treated psychotic patients with pharmaceutical doses, like 20,000 IU per day. It would not surprise me at all if researchers found that dose to be effective treatment in some cases of psychosis."  source


Deficiencies in a number of minerals can also cause depression.

  • Magnesium: Deficiency can result in depressive symptoms, along with confusion, agitation, anxiety, and hallucinations, as well as a variety of physical problems. Most diets do not include enough magnesium, and stress also contributes to magnesium depletion
  • Calcium: Depletion affects the central nervous system. Low levels of calcium cause nervousness, apprehension, irritability, and numbness.
  • Zinc: Inadequacies result in apathy, lack of appetite, and lethargy. When zinc is low, copper in the body can increase to toxic levels, resulting in paranoia and fearfulness.
  • Iron: Depression is often a symptom of chronic iron deficiency. Other symptoms include general weakness, listlessness, exhaustion, lack of appetite, and headaches.
  • Manganese: This metal is needed for proper use of the B-complex vitamins and vitamin C. Since it also plays a role in amino-acid formation, a deficiency may contribute to depression stemming from low levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine. Manganese also helps stabilize blood sugar and prevent hypoglycemic mood swings.
  • Potassium: Depletion is frequently associated with depression, tearfulness, weakness, and fatigue.


“Magnesium deficiency can produce symptoms of anxiety or depression, including muscle weakness, fatigue, eye twitches, insomnia, apathy, poor memory, confusion, anger, nervousness and a rapid pulse…Psychiatrists all too often rely on prescription drugs for suffering patients and have no insight into the metabolic functions of the mind and body and what happens when nutrients are deficient. Anxiety and depression are often nutrient deficiency diseases and chemical sensitivities, not drug deficiency diseases.”  source

Magnesium  and Calcium

"Because magnesium suppresses PTH and stimulates calcitonin it helps put calcium into our bones, preventing osteoporosis, and helps remove it from our soft tissues eliminating some forms of arthritis. A magnesium deficiency will prevent this chemical action from taking place in our bodies, and no amount of calcium can correct it. While magnesium helps our body absorb and retain calcium, too much calcium prevents magnesium from being absorbed. So taking large amounts of calcium without adequate magnesium may either create malabsorption or a magnesium deficiency. Whichever occurs, only magnesium can break the cycle." source

Omega 3s

""We've known for a few years that people who eat a diet rich in fish are less likely to be depressed. But new research shows that one nutrient in fish might actually be more effective against depression than traditional antidepressants. The nutrient is an omega-3 fatty acid called EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).
British scientists gave a group of patients with stubborn depression a daily dose of EPA. After three months, over two thirds of the group reported a 50% reduction in their symptoms—particularly feelings of sadness and pessimism, inability to work, sleeplessness and low libido. All of the patients had previously tried other medications, including Prozac, other SSRIs and tricyclic antidepressants, the researchers reported in the Archives of General Psychiatry."source

Vegan sources of Omega 3

Omega-3 DHA made from golden marine or blue green algae in delayed release vegan capsules


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