Antioxidants as Therapy for Low Mood

Exposure to stress is a primary factor in the development of mood disorders. Stress is able to cause mood disorders because one of the downstream effects of the presence of high levels of stress hormones is the production of inflammation in the brain. This inflammation causes the generation of free radicals, and this can cause oxidative stress within the brain tissues that can subsequently alter brain chemistry. Antioxidants are protective of mood disorders because they can prevent the changes to brain chemistry associated with oxidative stress. In one study researchers administered an antioxidant formula containing β-carotene, ascorbic acid, pyridoxine, zinc sulphate and sodium selenite to subjects admitted to hospital for heart disease treatment. The results of the study showed that after 2 years of taking the supplement, the depression in the subjects was significantly lower than a similar group that had been administered a placebo, suggesting that antioxidants were an effective antidepressant therapy.

antioxidants mood anxiety depression

Interestingly in this study the antioxidants were not effective at reducing the anxiety of the subjects. The reason for this is not clear, but may relate to the slightly different causes of anxiety and depression. In other studies, antioxidants have been shown to provide beneficial effects against the development of anxiety. A diet high in plant foods is the best way of obtaining a high level of antioxidant nutrients.

Eat Well, Stay Healthy, Protect Yourself


Leng, G. C. 1998. Impact of antioxidant therapy on symptoms of Anxiety and depression. A randomized controlled trial in patients with peripheral arterial disease. Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine. 8(4): 321-328

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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