Three Essential Mood Minerals

Ph.D., CPsychol., AFBPsS, Health Professional

Iron:  iron deficiency is the most common of the mineral deficiencies. Iron comes from green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, lentils and red meat. Lack of iron is associated with irritability,  apathy, fatigue, poor concentration and symptoms of depression. Iron deficiency is also linked with increased anxiety levels and panic.

Selenium:  deficiency in selenium has been linked to a variety of diseases and conditions but they include depression and mood regulation. Selenium is an essential mineral found, for example, in fish, meat, mushrooms, eggs, brazil nuts, garlic and grain cereals.Deficiencies are most common in smokers, the elderly, some vegetarians, some people on low incomes (associated with poor diet) but also some areas, for example parts of China, New Zealand, Croatia and Slovakia.

Zinc:  The most common psychological symptom of zinc deficiency is anxiety and/or depression. Zinc is found in meat, poultry, milk, cereal products, cheese and shellfish.There is some indication that zinc supplements may aid the therapeutic effects of antidepressants and that zinc itself may act as an antidepressant. The body isn't able to store zinc so a daily intake is necessary. People with depression typically have low zinc levels and the deeper the depression the lower the zinc level.

As with many minerals too little is as bad as too much and so caution needs to be exercised if considering supplements. Too much iron can lead to stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting. The Office of Dietary  Supplementspoint out that too much selenium can lead to issues ranging from garlic breath to irritability and problems with the nervous system. Too much zinc can affect the immune function and alter copper metabolism and iron function.

Although mineral and vitamin deficiencies are known contributors to  mood states  it isn't common for people to be tested with these in mind. In part this is due to the costs and relative complexity involved. More and more research points to the significance of diet in mood states. As one commentator has pointed out the uptake   of dietary information can be extremely slow. The simple cure for scurvy via lime or lemon juice was known over 200 years before it was finally adopted. Let's hope our insights between mood and food develop more quickly.

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