The wonderful thing about nutritional therapy is that the patient is able to help themselves. This is particularly important in illnesses like depression where nothing seems within your control. You can help yourself, you just need to know where to start. There are some simple nutrients that can have a huge impact on depression. We look at three of them here:


Studies have shown zinc levels can be very low in people struggling with depression. It has many roles in the body including helping to reduce neuroinflammation, which we now think is a key factor in the development of depression. I havent completely ruled out concept of some forms of depression being a consequence of neurotransmitter dysfunction, such as low serrotonin. Zinc helps in this way too.It is needed to convert tryptophan to serotonin, and serrotonin helps us to feel happy. It also helps us to think clearly and have sharp thinking and is plays an important role in other neurotransmitter pathways.

Common zinc deficiency signs.

Regular heartburn or bloating
IBS or digestive issues
Stretch marks
Clicking joints
Lack of appetite or limits diet through choice
Often deficient in those with anorexia (or a history/family history of) and autism

A deficiency of zinc affects absorption of other nutrients so it will lead to further deficiencies of other nutrients.

Omega 3 fats.

We get these from oily fish and algae. Many people use linseeds or other seeds for omega 3 instead of eating oily fish regularly. However, if you are low in zinc or magnesium (and both are crazily common deficiencies), then you won’t be able to convert the omega 3 from seeds into the longer chain fatty acids we get directly from fish. Omega 3 is vital for brain signaling, without it the messages from brain chemicals like serrotonin and dopamine won’t be effective. Instead of feeling happy relaxed and smart we end up feeling depressed, mentally dull and reliant on stimulants like sugar and caffeine to trigger dopamine release. Omega 3 is also vital for lowering inflammation. The latest research suggests that depression is an inflammatory disorder which could explain the good results seen with omega 3 in patients with depression.

Common omega 3 deficiency signs.

Easily sunburnt
Joint pains
Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
Painful periods
Low mood or depression
Cardiovascular disease
Lack of concentration

Vitamin D

The other nutrient that can have a major impact on depression is vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is super common, especially over the winter months. There is a huge amount of information linking vitamin D deficiency to depression and low mood. This is most likely becasue of it’s anti-inflammatory action, but it has many roles in the body so I doubt this is the only way it exerts it’s effect on depression. In the UK and other countries where sun is sparse in the winter months – deficiency of this nutrient peaks around February. Our last exposure to the sun was in the sunnier months of August, possibly September and out body stores cannot last for more that a few months.

Common vitamin D deficiency signs.

Tendency to inflammatory or auto immune disorders like Crohn’s disease, Colitis and arthritis, Lupus or Psoriasis.
Bone and/or joint pain
Head sweating
Lingering colds or flu
Low mood or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Causes of low mood and depression.

Low mood and depression are signs that something in your body is out of balance. There is a system or more than one system in your body that is out of balance. It could be that your digestion isn’t optimal leading to nutrient deficiencies through absorption problems. If you suffer with IBS, heartburn or bloating then this could be the case for you. Perhaps a really stressful period has left your adrenal function compromised. If you find yourself susceptible to stress then this could be you. Or maybe undiagnosed, sub clinical thyroid issues are leading to poor mood and lack of motivation. If you have a problem losing weight, or some hair loss or have constipation then this could be your issue. You might even have an imbalance like pyroluria or an MTHFR deviation – where through loss of key nutrients or poor absorption depression can develop. When you are able to figure out what YOUR issues and imbalances are you can begin to help yourself to recover.

The Brain Food Clinic runs it’s very own online course (The Secrets to Mental Wellness) to help you to discover the imbalances contributing to your low mood. You can study in your own time and it’s on special offer right now. Find out more by getting in touch below …..