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  • Julie Saalsaa, NC

Have the Winter Blues Turned into the Spring Blues?


Spring is usually a time for renewal, growth, hope. The days are longer now, which means more sunshine. Temperatures start to rise and bring with them warm breezes that seem to sweep away the winter blues. Our eyes delight in the rainbow of colors in the blooming flowers, budding trees, and the lush green grass. All these things seem to help us peel back the layers we covered ourselves with from winter. Winter is a hard time for many people as depression can set in. Spring tends to bring relief to some. But this spring is different. I probably don’t even have to explain why.


It has been hard for many people to shake off the winter blues when spring started with a pandemic instead of a that growth and renewal. You may be feeling sad, stuck, fatigued, or lack motivation. While we may not have control of some things during this time of COVID-19, I am here to tell you there are some things you do have control over that may help you melt those blues away. There are certain nutrients that can help support our bodies when we are feeling depressed. Below is a list of those nutrients along with the food that contain them.

B VITAMINS

Specifically, vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin is the best form) and folate (also known as folic acid) are important as they work together in the body. The B vitamins work with to synthesize DNA and protect our nervous system. Studies of depressed patients have shown that 31 to 35% were deficient in folate.(1) Deficiency of B12 can cause depression for some people.(2) The adult Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for folate is 400 mcg(3) and can be found in the following foods: asparagus, avocados, beans, legumes, lentils, brown rice, green leafy vegetables, oranges, mushrooms, pork, tuna, lamb, salmon, whole grains. The adult RDA for B12 is 2.4 mcg(3) and can be found in dairy products, eggs, meat, poultry, and seafood.



ZINC

Zinc is an essential mineral we get from the following foods: bean, legumes, egg yolks, nuts, sea vegetables, fish, liver, meat from grass-fed animals, oysters, seeds, whole grains. It is important for proper nervous system function and cellular growth and development. The adult RDA for zinc is 11 mg.(3)


SELENIUM

High dietary consumption of selenium has been shown to improve mood.(1) Selenium is a trace mineral and can be found the following foods: eggs, meat, Brazil nuts, other nuts and seeds, seafood, sea vegetables, whole grains. The adult RDA for selenium is 55 mcg. (3) Interesting fact: one single Brazil nut contains 95.8 mcg of selenium!


VITAMIN D

This vitamin is a little tricky as its acts like hormone. Our body will produce vitamin D when our skin is exposed to the sun. This is actually the best way to get vitamin D. The foods that contain some vitamin D are: cold-water, wild-caught fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna, trout), eggs from pastured chickens, and liver. The adult RDA for vitamin D is 20 mcg.(3)



POLYPHENOL-RICH FOODS

Polyphenols are compounds found in foods that are antioxidant, antibacterial, and antiviral. They have been shown to produce antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects when eaten.(4) You can find polyphenols in colorful fruits and vegetables, green tea, coffee, extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil, dark chocolate.



OMEGA-3 ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS

Healthy fats are very important for healthy brain function. Essential means that it cannot be made by our bodies and it is essential to get it from our diet. They play a part in the creation of our cell’s membranes, neurotransmitter function (signals that get sent to our brains from the rest of our bodies), and nerve cell functions. These food include: cold-water, wild-caught fish (salmon, trout, herring, mackerel, halibut), flaxseed (freshly ground), flax oil, fish oil.


Incorporating these foods, as well as daily exercise, time outside, good sleep, and hardy belly laugh now and then, may just help you boost your energy and make you feel like spring is actually here.

I don’t want to leave you without a plan, so I put together the Eating for Happiness Program. It is practical and easy to follow. It includes:


  • a beautifully designed 6-day meal plan

  • shopping list

  • daily prep guide (gives you steps for what foods to prep when)

  • recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks


You get all this for only $27! The program is designed specifically with the nutrients I mentioned in the article. You will receive the program as .pdf downloadable files for quick and easy access.


Some of the recipes include: Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken, Pistachio Crusted Salmon, Chocolate Dipped Strawberries! YUM!


Get your Eating for Happiness Program here!



REFERENCES

(1) Murray, M., Pizzorno, J., & Pizzorno, L. (2005). The encyclopedia of healing foods. New York, NY: Atria Books.

(2 )Balch, P. (2006). Prescription for nutritional healing: a to z guide to supplements. Revised and updated. New York, NY: Penguin Group.

(3) U.S. Food & Drug Administration (2020, March). Interactive nutrition facts label, vitamins and minerals chart 6. Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/InteractiveNutritionFactsLabel/assets/InteractiveNFL_Vitamins&MineralsChart_March2020.pdf

(4) Bauman, E. (2018). Neurological health, Lecture 2, Depression and anxiety. [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from https://baumancollege.instructure.com/courses/50/pages/210-dot-2-depression-and-anxiety?module_item_id=7891

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