Teenagers are particularly prone to depression. It’s not just the external pressures that affect them but internal ones too. I find that correcting nutrient status and biochemistry can help a teen conquer depression without the need for anti-depressants.

The increased nutrient demands of puberty put a teenager at risk of depression both at the time and in the years that follow.  Lifestyle changes can also affect nutrient status. They might be eating more processed food or are following a vegetarian or vegan diet or maybe attempted weight loss diets. It is possible that they might be drinking alcohol or smoking which can compromise nutrient status at a key time in their lives.

Here are 3 special nutrients that will help your teen overcome depression from the inside:

1. Zinc. Levels can be really low in those suffering with depression. It helps reduce neuro-inflammation which we now believe to be a key component in the development of depression. It is also needed to convert tryptophan to serotonin and serotonin is that key brain chemical that helps us to feel happy. Zinc also helps us to think clearly and have sharper thinking. Here are just a few of the signs of zinc deficiency:

  • Heartburn, reflux or bloating.
  • IBS or digestive issues.
  • Stretch marks
  • Clicking joints
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of appetite or limits diet through choice
  • Often deficient in those with anorexia or a history of it

A deficiency of zinc will affect the absorption of other nutrients and so will lead to a deficiency of other nutrients further down the line including iron and B12.

2. Omega 3 fatty acids. These are vital for fighting depression and your teen might not getting enough if they don’t eat oily fish. Some people eat linseeds or other seeds to try to get omega 3 into the diet, but this is not effective if you have a zinc or magnesium deficiency (and both of these are incredibly common!). If this is the case, then conversion from the fatty acids we get from seeds to the longer chain fatty acids that we get from fish doesn’t happen. So you can see how problems can develop from this. Omega 3, the long chain type that you get from oily fish are vital for brain signalling. Without it the messages from brain chemical, like serotonin and dopamine, just wont be effective. So 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 and the latest research suggests that depression is actually an inflammatory disorder – inflammation of the brain. So using omega 3 as an anti-inflammatory agent is really a no-brainer – it’s simple and it’s effective. Here are some of the common deficiency signs:

  • Easily sunburnt
  • Pain in joints
  • Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • Painful periods
  • Low mood or depression
  • Eczema
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Lack of concentration
  1. Vitamin D. If you live in the northern hemisphere and have just come through the winter months you are most likely super deficient in vitamin D. Unless you were lucky enough to get some winter sun. Vitamin D deficiency is at epidemic levels it is from a combination of lack of sunshine and the use of sun blocks. This is a problem because there is a huge amount of information linking vitamin D deficiency to depression and low mood. This is most likely because, vitamin D is hugely anti-inflammatory. In the UK where sun is sparse in autumn and winter months deficiency peaks around February – our last exposure to the sun was in August or September and our body stores can’t last for more than a few months.  This is the main reason we struggle to fight off infections in the winter months and why people suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and it can also contribute to the development of serious illnesses and to cognitive decline in general so I recommend testing. Your GP can test your child’s vitamin D levels for you or you can order a blood spot test for around £28
  • Signs of deficiency include:
  • Tendency to inflammatory or auto immune disorders
  • Crohn’s disease, colitis and arthritis
  • Lupus or psoriasis
  • Bone and or joint pain
  • Head sweating
  • Lingering colds or flu
  • Low mood or SAD.

Low mood and depression are signs that there is something out of balance in your teens body. There is a system or system that is not functioning as well as it should – resulting in low mood or depression.

It could be that digestion isn’t optimal leading to nutrient deficiencies through absorption problems. If your teen suffers with IBS or reflux or bloating then this could be the case for your child.  Or maybe a really stressful period has left their adrenal function compromised. If you find your teen is particularly susceptible to stress then this could be the case. It is possible that your teen might have an imbalance like pyroluria or MTHFR deviation these can create metabolic imbalances that create a higher need for certain nutrients which can develop into depression.

We have created an online course for individuals to investigate their imbalances, learn what is causing their depression and help them to rectify these imbalances and be happy again. We have called this cause The Secrets to Mental Wellness: Happy Mood Using Food. If you are interested in finding out more then sign up below.