Physiological factors can affect the way we think and feel. Mental health issues can have a physical cause. Of course, there are life circumstances that can lead to depression but what about depression with no known cause? 

You can run functional lab tests to find out which physiological factors could be influencing your mood and well-being. These tests measure substances that can influence mood, whether through metabolism, inflammation or nutrient deficiencies. 

C-reactive protein: This test can be run by your GP. It is a marker of inflammation. More recent research has touched upon the possibility that depression might be an inflammatory disease. 

Vitamin D: People with low vitamin D levels are more likely to have depression. This is another test your GP can order for you. Be mindful that current NHS guidelines for sufficient vitamin D are set very low. You want to ask for your specific level or even a copy of your results. A range of 130 – 150 n/mols is most likely ideal. Vitamin D levels can drop particularly low over the winter months and have been associated with the development of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). You can order a postal vitamin D kit through us.

B12: The role of B12 in mental well-being is understated. Low levels have been implicated in a number of mental health disorders, including depression. The range for adequate B12 in NHS blood tests is very wide indeed and this is another circumstance where it is good to get your actual figures. It may be that your levels fall within this range but are at the lower end. If you require higher levels for optimal functioning it might be worth supplementing. Speak to your nutritionist about ordering methylmalonic acid (MMA) testing to get an accurate picture of B12 uptake through urine metabolite analysis. 

Thyroid hormones: Perhaps of the biggest underlying issues causing depression is an undiagnosed or subclinical thyroid disorder. If your thyroid is under functioning low mood and depression is one of a number of symptoms that could affect you. Other signs include fatigue, sluggish bowel movements, poor concentration, memory and weight gain or inability to gain weight. You may have already been tested for thyroid dysfunction and told that your test results were ‘normal’. It’s worth checking which thyroid hormones were tested. Often the only hormone tested by GP’s is Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), this is not a sensitive indicator of thyroid function. We need to look at T3, T4 and check for thyroid antibodies too. There is a postal test that gives a comprehensive overview of thyroid function available through Invivo Clinical. Get in touch if you would like to order this. 

Homocysteine: High homocysteine has been linked with depression, dementia and cardiovascular disease. Homocysteine level can usually be improved by attention to lifestyle and nutrition but if left unchecked it can contribute to inflammation and may lower serotonin levels. You can check your homocysteine levels with this postal kit. 

If you want to investigate what factors are influencing your mood and wellbeing. Get in touch.

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Author: Sarah Hanratty

Sarah is a specialist practitioner at the Brain Food Clinic. She has a degree in Nutritional Medicine and is a certified Gut and Psychology Syndrome Practitioner. Sarah helps people to overcome physical and mental health issues using bespoke nutritional protocols.

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