Plenty of us feel blue, anxious, or lackluster from time to time. In fact, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), more than 20 million American adults have a mood disorder and 40 million have an anxiety disorder.
If you’re frequently feeling these ways, seeing a licensed health care provider for individualized medical advice is always your best first line of defense. That said, various vitamins and supplements have been proven to support a stable mood. Here are eight that experts—and science—stand by:
You’ve heard that bathing in Epsom salts (which contain the mineral magnesium sulfate) helps to soothe achy muscles, of course. But there’s more to magnesium than bath time: “Nutritionally, magnesium is known as the anti-stress, mood-stabilizing mineral,” says Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, a stress management and nutrition expert and author of The Magnesium Miracle. “Studies have shown magnesium to reduce anxiety and stress levels. And serotonin, the feel-good brain chemical, depends on magnesium for its production and function.”
Research published in Obstetrics & Gynecology also found that magnesium supplements could help address mood-related pre-menstrual symptoms.
Dean recommends reaching for magnesium citrate powder, which is a highly absorbable form that can be mixed with hot or cold water and sipped at work or at home throughout the day.
2. Vitamin D
Many of us suffer from a vitamin D deficiency, especially in the winter months when longer, darker days limit our exposure to sunshine. According to the Mayo Clinic, some studies suggest an association between low vitamin D levels in the blood and various mood issues, including depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
They also note that vitamin D supplementation may support mood stability associated with SAD. Meanwhile, an article published in Issues in Mental Health encourages more research around the link between vitamin D levels and mental health. For these reasons, working with a doctor to check your D levels and explore supplementation options could help bolster mood.
This herbal supplement (also known as an adaptogen) is associated with promoting relaxation and calm. In fact, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine concluded that Ashwagandha root can help support stress management—and thus, well-being.
A plant that grows in cold, mountainous regions of Europe, Asia, and high altitudes in the Arctic, rhodiola has traditionally been used to promote a stable mood. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), two review articles—published in 2011 and 2012—looked at 15 studies that tested rhodiola on physical and mental performance in 575 people. Both reviews found evidence that rhodiola may help support mental and physical performance. However, more research must be done to make the connection, notes the study.
If a restless mind is interfering with your ability to catch some Zs, you may want to consider trying passionflower, which is a plant originally discovered in sixteenth-century Peru. Used to treat mood issues related to stress, research published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics concluded that passionflower is effective for supporting mood stability in those with anxiety.
6. St. John’s wort
When you think of mood-boosting supplements, St. John’s wort is one that most definitely comes to mind. The flowering plant has earned quite the glowing reputation for helping support mood stability.
Its benefits may be attributed to the way the plant prevents nerve cells in the brain from reabsorbing certain mood-regulating chemical messengers, including dopamine and serotonin, according to preliminary studies cited by the NCCIH.
That said, it can interact with prescription drugs, herbs, and other supplements, so you should most definitely consult your healthcare provider before taking St. John’s wort.
S-adenosyl-L-methionine (also called SAM-e) is a well-studied, naturally-occurring molecule present in all living cells. An article published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry concluded that preliminary data suggests SAM-e may be a potential mood enhancer.
The NCCIH warns that, like similar supplements, you should always consult a healthcare provider before adding SAM-e to your regimen.
Eating more wild Alaskan salmon and supplementing with fish oil may bring a smile to your face for more than one reason. A review published in the journal Clinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience noted that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) can help decrease feelings of sadness, promote stress relief, and increase libido—all things that make for a much better life!