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Feeling Depressed? Fight Back with Nutrition!
BY DAVID PERLMUTTER, M.D., F.A.C.N.

THE SAD STATE OF DEPRESSION

Do you experience persistent feelings of sadness, low self-esteem, or a loss of interest in everyday activities? According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 18.8 million U.S. adults suffer from major depression. The monetary cost of mood disorders can be devastating with estimates in the tens of billions of dollars. Although medical advancements have been made, pharmaceutical solutions are not delivering the results hoped for due to limited efficacy, noncompliance, and undesirable side effects.

DOES DIET MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

The answer is absolutely YES! "Fish eating" countries such as Norway have a much smaller incidence of depression. Why? Because omega-3 fatty acids (like those found abundantly in cold water fish) are essential for the proper functioning of our cells. Low levels of DHA in adults are associated with depression, moodiness, and irritability. Scientific research supports these findings even correlating the severity of depression with the levels of omega-3 fatty acids in both the diet and the red blood cell membranes.

WHAT'S THE CATCH?

Fatty fish is both a terrific source of omega-3 fatty acids and a direct source of DHA, but may contain a fair amount of mercury. Farmraised fish should be avoided because they are typically fed hormones and antibiotics. Other sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fresh greens, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and specially fortified eggs. Due to modern food processing techniques and the fact that our bodies can be hampered in its DHA conversion process from food sources, few people get enough DHA through diet alone. For this reason, I suggest taking a high quality fish oil supplement every day. In a recent report in the Archives of General Psychiatry, researchers demonstrated a remarkable 50 percent reduction in the standard Hamilton Depression Rating Scale in 54 percent of the research subjects taking a fish oil supplement with DHA, providing scientific proof that DHA can elevate mood.

FINDING PEACE OF MIND

Choosing the right fish oil supplement is very important for two reasons. Fish oil absolutely needs to be free from environmental pollutants, as well as being fresh. At the Perlmutter Health Center, Nordic Naturals fish oils were chosen as the exclusive fish oil supplements because they have shown revolutionary freshness and purity verified by thirdparty testing that is unprecedented in the U.S. They surpass all national and international standards for freshness and purity and are free from heavy metals and environmental toxins.

"B" IS FOR THE BLUES!

If you are irritable and unhappy, chances are you are low on one or more B vitamins. This is typical among people suffering from depression, memory problems, and dementia. Foods rich in B vitamins include meat, fish, eggs, whole grains, fortified cereals, and, in lesser amounts, fruits and vegetables. Because B vitamins can be fragile, sensitive to high heat and microwaves, I recommend that everyone take a basic B-complex supplement. Taking certain kinds of prescription drugs or following a strict vegan diet can also put you at risk for deficiency.


When you finally make that connection between what you eat and how you feel, there is enormous opportunity for healthy functioning within the body. Simple changes to the diet and the addition of quality supplements can bring enormous changes to our quality of life. For additional information on dietary changes and tools to support good mood and good brain health, please review my new book, The Better Brain Book.


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