Chromium As An Antidepressant

Chromium is an essential trace mineral that is required for the correct function of the insulin system. As insulin has such wide ranging effects on cells and tissues, a chromium deficiency can significantly affect metabolic regulation in a number of ways. One possible role for chromium is in the maintenance of normal mental health. In this regard a number of studies have observed antidepressant effects in humans from administration of chromium supplements. For example, in one such study, researchers administered 600 micrograms of chromium picolinate to a number of individuals with major depressive disorder for 8 weeks. Another group of subjects also suffering from major depressive disorder received a placebo tablet. The results of the study showed that the subjects receiving the chromium supplement experienced significant improvements in their major depressive disorder compared to the subjects receiving the placebo tablet. Chromium picolinate supplements may therefore be a beneficial tool against depressive disorders.

chromium anxiety depression

It has been hypothesised that chromium supplements are beneficial to mental health and depressive disorders because they can downregulate serotonin 5HT2A receptors, in a similar manner to selective serotonin reuptake inhibiting drugs. Alternatively the mechanism by which chromium acts as an antidepressant may be through the insulin system.

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Davidson, J. R., Abraham, K., Connor, K. M. and McLeod, M. N. 2003. Effectiveness of chromium in atypical depression: a placebo-controlled trial. Biological Psychiatry. 53(3): 261-264
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The Association Between Zinc and Depression

Mood disorders such as depression are difficult to treat, and this may relate to depression being caused, or at least contributed to, by a number of different factors. Certainly there is evidence that mineral deficiencies of various types can increase the risk of depressive disorders. Zinc has been shown to play a role in mental health, and some evidence indicates that low levels of blood zinc are associated with depressive disorders. For example, in one study, researchers assessed the mental health of a number of women following childbirth, and also measured their blood levels of zinc. The results of the study showed that 3 days following childbirth, zinc levels dropped and this was associated with an increase in depressive symptoms. By day 30, zinc levels had recovered and the levels of depressive symptoms had also improved. The women with depressive symptoms prior to childbirth had zinc levels similar to those at 3 days post-partum, indicating that there was a clear association between zinc levels and depressive symptoms.

zinc anxiety depression mood

It can be difficult to raise blood levels of zinc using diet because reliable sources of zinc are not commonly consumed. Taking a multivitamin and mineral formula containing zinc, or taking a separate zinc tablet might be the best way of reliably raising blood levels of zinc.

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Wójcik, J., Dudek, D., Schlegel-Zawadzka, M., Grabowska, M., Marcinek, A., Florek, E., Piekoszewski, W., Nowak, R. J., Opoka, W. and Nowak, G. 2006. Antepartum/postpartum depressive symptoms and serum zinc and magnesium levels. Pharmacological Reports. 58(571): 571-576
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Magnesium for Mood?

It has been suggested that a low intake of magnesium results in the opening of  N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) coupled calcium channels. The unbalanced opening of these channels may cause neuronal injury and this could lead to disease. One possibility is that low magnesium diets leads to depression as NMDA channel dysfunction causes brain injury through this neuronal injury. High magnesium diets have been shown to be beneficial against depression because they prevent the opening of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) coupled calcium channels. Evidence for the benefits of magnesium comes from studies that have shown that subjects with high blood levels of magnesium have the lowest risk of depression. One study demonstrated that the administration of magnesium as a supplement to subjects with depression was as effective as prescribing tricyclic antidepressants. However, the use of magnesium was associated with no side effects, whereas the tricyclic antidepressants were not so well tolerated.

magnesium anxiety depression

One of the possible causes of depression could be a deficiency of magnesium. Magnesium supplement and high magnesium diets appear to be beneficial in the treatment of mood disorders, particularly depression. Green leafy vegetables are a good source of magnesium.

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Eby III, G. A. and Eby, K. L. 2010. Magnesium for treatment-resistant depression: a review and hypothesis. Medical hypotheses. 74(4): 649-660
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Iron Status and Mood

Mood disorders are highly complex and in many cases it is not clear what the cause of the disturbance is. However, in many cases the causes of mood disorders can relate to imbalances in the intake of essential nutrients. Iron deficiency is associated with mood disorders, although the reason for the relationship, and the cause and effect, is not clear. For example, one study investigated the prevalence of depression in a large group of female medical students who were in good health. The subjects filled in a questionnaire to determine their mood status with regard to their levels of depression. The participants then had their iron levels measured using a clinical test. The results of the study showed that the serum ferritin levels of the subjects were inversely associated with levels of depression, such that those subjects with the lowest serum ferritin and the highest risk of being depressed. However, the subjects did not show signs of anaemia, suggesting that low iron intakes may cause mood changes before anaemia occurs.

iron mood depression anxiety

Low iron intakes are best addressed through dietary changes, which can include the addition of more red meat and fish to the diet. If red meat and fish are not to be consumed an absorbable form of iron such as iron bisglycinate could be used.

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Shariatpanaahi, M. V., Shariatpanaahi, Z. V., Moshtaaghi, M., Shahbaazi, S. H. and Abadi, A. 2007. The relationship between depression and serum ferritin level. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 61(4): 532-535
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Selenium Supplements and Mood in the Elderly

A selenium deficient diet is known to increase the risk of mood disorders including anxiety and depression. A high selenium diet or selenium supplements can reverse a selenium deficiency and also improve mood. A number of studies have investigated the effects of selenium on mood and these studies provide good evidence that both high selenium diets and selenium supplements are able to cause elevations in mood in those with low levels of selenium. For example, in one study, researchers administered a supplement of selenium, vitamin C and folate to a group of elderly nursing home residents. Selenium levels were inversely associated with depression, but no association was found for vitamin C or folate. The supplement was significantly beneficial at improving the mood of the subjects in those subjects with low levels of selenium. In addition to the improvements in mood, the subjects with low levels of selenium also had significant elevations in plasma levels of selenium following supplementation.  

selenium depression anxiety

Selenium appears to be beneficial at causing elevations in mood, but only in subjects with low levels of selenium. This indicates the selenium is correcting a deficiency, and that a low dietary intake of selenium is a causative factor in depressed mood.

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Gosney, M. A., Hammond, M. F., Shenkin, A. and Allsup, S. 2008. Effect of micronutrient supplementation on mood in nursing home residents. Gerontology. 54(5): 292-299
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Globe Thistle (Sphaeranthus indicus) Phytochemistry

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Globe Thistle (Sphaeranthus indicus)

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Selenium and Depression: The Alcohol Connection

Selenium is a trace mineral required for human health. The selenium content of the blood varies around the world depending on the selenium content of the soil. Evidence suggests that low intakes of selenium are a cause of mood disorders, possibly because a low selenium intake decreases antioxidant defences in cells. Chronic alcohol consumption is known to cause depletion in blood levels of selenium and also to cause depression. Some researchers have therefore speculated that the depletion of selenium may be cause of the depression associated with chronic drinking. Interestingly, when chronic drinkers abstain from alcohol consumption, their selenium levels return to normal and their depression abates. The low levels of selenium seen in individuals who habitually drink alcohol may be due to low dietary intakes, or may be due to poor absorption, or a combination of both. Supplementation with selenium is an obvious first step to restore blood selenium levels and protect mental health if blood levels are low.

selenium anxiety depression mood

Researchers have investigated the effects of a high and low selenium diet in healthy subjects. Following a high selenium diet for 15 weeks resulted in significantly more clear headed thinking and less confusion, as well as significantly less depression and anxiety than those on the low selenium diet.

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Sher, L. 2008. Depression and suicidal behavior in alcohol abusing adolescents: possible role of selenium deficiency. Minerva Pediatrica. 60(2): 201-209
Finley J. W. and Penland J. G. 1998. Adequacy or deprivation of dietary selenium in healthy men: clinical and psychological findings. The Journal of Trace Elements in Experimental Medicine. 11: 11-27
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More On Iron and Mood

Iron is an essential trace mineral required for a number of functions. Most notably, iron is involved in the transport of oxygen and the synthesis of neurotransmitters. These two functions suggest that a deficiency of iron could affect energy levels within the brain, and that iron deficiency may therefore have a significant effect on neurochemistry and mood. A number of studies have investigated the effects of dietary iron on mood and cognition in iron deficient subjects. In one study, iron deficient women were fed a high iron diet which provided 2.25 mg of absorbed iron per day (the recommended intake) in the form of meat, or a ferrous sulphate iron tablet providing 105 mg per day of iron. Following 12 weeks of treatment the diet and supplement group both showed significant improvements in cognition and mood compared to the placebo group, suggesting that the higher iron intake had a beneficial effect on brain physiology. Other benefits such as a reduction in fatigue were also seen in the iron groups.  

iron fatigue mood anxiety

Iron is most often associated with physical fatigue, but what is not often considered is that fatigue can also affect the brain. Mental fatigue can in turn lead to mood changes and poor cognition, which may explain the beneficial effects of iron supplements in this regard. Highly absorbable forms of iron such as iron bisglycinate may be more beneficial that inorganic forms such as ferrous sulphate.

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Patterson, A. J., Brown, W. J. and Roberts, D. C. 2001. Dietary and supplement treatment of iron deficiency results in improvements in general health and fatigue in Australian women of childbearing age. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 20(4): 337-342
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Magnesium and Vitamin B6 to Treat Mild Anxiety?

Studies have observed that magnesium deficiency may be a causative factor in the development of mood disorders, particularly anxiety. One of the main mechanisms by which magnesium may benefit anxiety is through its ability to counter neuromuscular excitability. Vitamin B6 is required for the correct transport of magnesium into cells and in this way maintains normal intracellular magnesium concentrations. A deficiency in vitamin B6 can therefore result in abnormal intracellular levels of magnesium and a de facto magnesium deficiency. One study investigated the effects of a combination of 200 mg of magnesium as magnesium oxide and vitamin B6 on the symptoms of premenstrual anxiety experienced by a group of women for one menstrual cycle. The results of the study showed that the combination of magnesium and vitamin B6 showed a significant effect at reducing anxiety compared to treatment with just magnesium or vitamin B6 or the placebo, suggesting that synergism between the two nutrients had occurred.

magnesium anxiety depression mood

In the study mentioned above the diets of the women had an average daily energy intake of 1817 Kcal with a magnesium intake of 289 mg, and a vitamin B6 intake of 1.9 mg. These values are quite low and the supplements may well have been correcting deficiencies of these nutrients. Nuts can be a good source of B vitamins and magnesium.

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De Souza, M. C., Walker, A. F., Robinson, P. A. and Bolland, K. 2000. A synergistic effect of a daily supplement for 1 month of 200 mg magnesium plus 50 mg vitamin B6 for the relief of anxiety-related premenstrual symptoms: a randomized, double-blind, crossover study. Journal of Women’s Health and Gender-Based Medicine. 9(2): 131-139
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