Vitamins for depression? Omega 3s? I went to Trader Joe’s the other day and the free sample guy Bryan said “Hey, the depression book lady! You know, that stuff really works.” He went on to say that since we spoke last a few months ago he started taking an Omega-3 and a B-vitamin supplement religiously and has gotten mood relief. Bryan started taking these supplements even without blood work because of the evidence for their effectiveness in alleviating depression. First, most of us do not get enough of these nutrients and fats in our diet and just adding them will give us a better sense of wellness. Second, in clinical trials participants tend to have improved moods while taking them. The clinical trials often do not even test to see if the participants are deficient. And frankly, most of them would be.
Unless you have made a concerted effort, the smart money is that you have not consumed enough Omega-3s or folate, perhaps for your entire life. If you or a loved one are struggling with depression, read Chapter 8: The Usual Suspects. This chapter describes the importance of Omega-3 fatty acids and B-vitamins. You will be surprised at how much Omega 3 you may need to take, but check out this abstract as well.
Finding Omega-3 Supplements For Depression
The book excerpts do not include the Appendix which does recommendations on supplements. You can easily access Omega-3 fatty acid and B-vitamin supplements. I am looking for the best supplements to offer on the website, but one simple solution is to walk into your local independent health food store and ask for their best supplement. My preferred cod liver oil is from Nordic Naturals. I have purchased the 16 oz liquid form because that is the best value. If the thought of cod liver oil or fish oil makes you gag, look for a gel cap form.
Dr Andrew Stoll recommends about 4 grams of EPA for depression. That is a lot of supplementation, so even if you take half that amount, you’ll want to shop the price. Look at the label on the back of the supplement for the amount of EPA. Most will be in milligrams. One thousand milligrams equals one gram. You’ll see that it takes a lot of cod liver oil to reach four grams of EPA.
Adding high Omega 3 foods (notably seafood) to your diet is an even better long-term strategy.
Finding B Vitamins For Depression
Increasingly, I lean toward coenzyme B vitamins. You can find coenzyme vitamins easily on Amazon (here are some I like). My coauthor treats people with depression daily and she says she does not actually find many who are deficient in B vitamins but she recommends them anyway because they do tend to give you more energy. If you have more energy for exercise and cooking healthy foods, that in itself will help your depression over the long term.
B Vitamins For Depression And Liver?
Those who know me well know that my favorite B-vitamin supplement is actually liver. Yes, I mean the internal organ of an animal. When I eat liver about three times a week, I have a great boost of energy, I am able to handle stress, and the many life stresses do not upset me as much as they normally would. If I haven’t disgusted you with this, liver is another strategy for you. To be honest, I do not like liver enough to eat it three times a week in perpetuity which is probably good since I would probably end up with a vitamin A toxicity. In any case, when I am dragging and need extra energy, when times are tough and I know I am at deep risk of falling into a pit, I do turn to liver as a tool. I take desiccated liver tablets for the same reason, though they do not have the fats that regular liver has.
Depression Is Tough; No Change Is Easy
There may be no supplement on the planet that can turn your life around in a few days if you are at the bottom of a bad cycle. If you are able to begin to take a B-vitamin and Omega-3 fatty acid supplement, do that today. The B-vitamins may only take a week to show an effect, but nutritional therapies in general may take weeks or months. It is a long-term strategy. And on bad days you’ll forget to take the supplements. That’s OK. Take them when you remember. Over time, your down cycles should be shorter and less bad. The time between these down cycles will be longer. That’s progress. I am hoping for many good days for you.
The book, Rebuild from Depression, reviews the top seven nutrient deficiencies associated with depression. It reviews how to identify a deficiency, the best form of supplementation, and the best food sources. It is recommended by readers and experts. Read more about the depression book.