Dr. Joel Fuhrman
- Why low levels of serotonin aren’t the whole story when it comes to mood regulation
- Contributing factors, such as genetics, trauma, and nutritional deficiencies
- The importance of key nutrients such as zinc, B12 and omega-3 fatty acids
- Why you should consider supplementing with specific plant extracts and amino acids
The role of counseling, exercise, EMDR, neurofeedback and other natural, non-invasive methods
I consider antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications to be the last step in managing these conditions, and should only be used if dietary changes, counseling, supplementation, and other treatments have failed to improve symptoms. Both types of drugs have serious risks and drawbacks that you should consider before you resort to medications.
Depression is a potentially life-threatening disease. If you are currently on medications, do not stop taking them without help from your physician. If you are suffering from depression or anxiety symptoms, I urge you to work with your physician to discuss and implement the natural, drug-free methods I outline in the webinar. Note: The webinar and this blog post are not a substitute for professional help; they are meant to provide information on options you can explore with your chosen healthcare professional.
A brain-healthy diet and supplemental nutrients
For a healthy mood state, the research supports following a diet rich in vegetables and other fiber- and phytochemical-rich plant foods, and avoiding high-glycemic processed foods, fast food, and other junk foods.
Carotenoids, flavonoids, and other phytochemicals support the health of neurons and protect the brain against oxidative stress and inflammation, which are contributors to anxiety and depression.Also, vitamins and minerals are important for the proper workings of the brain and production of neurotransmitters.
A diet rich in whole plant foods is health-promoting overall, but is low in a few key nutrients important for mood regulation: vitamin B12, zinc, and the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.18,24-28 It’s important to supplement with these nutrients.
CAPT Joseph Hibbeln M.D Breiflly expalins how
low levels of OMEGA-3's is very tightly associated with hyper brain activity. Ten folds more hyper activity.
CAPT Joseph Hibbeln M.D
Related: Why take a mutivitamin?
The omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are important for regulating inflammation, supporting the structure of brain cell membranes, maintaining the connectivity between neurons, and play a role in neurotransmitter synthesis and neurotransmission.29-32 Supplementation has improved symptoms of anxiety and depression, with EPA more effective than DHA in depression.33,34
Dr. Fuhrman’s Guide to Smart Supplementation
The Nutritarian diet is designed to fuel our bodies with high-nutrient plant foods and super-charge our immune defenses. This helps us reach our ideal weight, reverse and protect against chronic diseases, and age slowly. This eating style emphasizes colorful plant foods that provide us with thousands of beneficial phytochemicals while avoiding foods that may harm us. It is a diet designed to give us the happiest life possible. Scientific studies suggest that those who eat more whole plant foods live longer.1-5
As we increase the proportion of these life-protective plant foods and reduce animal products we slow aging and get further healthy life expectancy; however, the reduction and elimination of most animal-sourced foods reduce our exposure to certain beneficial nutrients such as zinc, B12, DHA, iodine and a few others. With the high plastic contamination of seafood and carcinogenic effects of meats, it is a more logical, earth sustainable and healthier option to optimize levels of these nutrients with supplements. With smart supplementation, we do not need to add animal products to our diets for these valuable nutrients.
This means that the ideal diet for longevity is so plant-rich that it requires only conservative and judicious supplementation to make it 100% effective and protective. Supplementation is a more sensible choice compared to trying to add enough seafood or meat to source these nutrients.
Deficiencies, even mild insufficiencies, of B12, zinc, iodine and DHA, can undermine our health. However, with the right supplementation, we can ensure we are using the advances in nutrition science and the ability of testing to optimize nutrient levels in the body to assure we not only protect against nutritional deficiencies, but achieve the optimal levels for maximizing our health, performance and longevity.
Vitamin deficiencies and insufficiencies increase the risk of chronic diseases. Inadequate vitamin and mineral intake is also common in the general population, even in those eating more animal products.6
In contrast, consuming an nutrient rich, plant-based diet with the appropriate amounts of vitamins and selected minerals has the potential to extend lifespan dramatically. Recent research concluded multivitamin use is associated with longer telomere length, which is an indicator of a slower rate of biological aging.7
Of course, do not forget that conventional multivitamins use cheap synthetic ingredients and contain vitamins that can increase cancer risk, such as folic acid and synthetic Vitamin A derivatives, so which multi you take can be a matter of life or death.
Ten years of life: Is it a matter of choice?
Does Nut Consumption Reduce Mortality and/or Risk of Cardiometabolic Disease? An Updated Review Based on Meta-Analyses
Plant-Based Diets Are Associated With a Lower Risk of Incident Cardiovascular Disease, Cardiovascular Disease Mortality, and All-Cause Mortality in a General Population of Middle-Aged Adults
Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality-a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies
Legumes: the most important dietary predictor of survival in older people of different ethnicities
Foods, fortificants, and supplements: Where do Americans get their nutrients?
Multivitamin use and telomere length in women
Dr. Mark Hyman:: " Food is more powerful than any drugs in terms of reversing disease". (Briefly breaking down nutrition).
5 Vital Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin B12 is required for important biological functions like red blood cell production, nervous system function, and DNA synthesis. Deficiency in B12 can cause a variety of health problems, including anemia, depression, confusion, fatigue, digestive issues, and nerve damage.8 Insufficient B12 levels increase homocysteine – a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, also associated with cognitive decline and dementia,9 and are also associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.10
When exposed to the sun, our skin makes vitamin D. Once thought to be important only for bone health, scientists have now found that vitamin D has important actions throughout the body, and low vitamin D levels are associated with diminished immune function, several cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune diseases.14,15
There are two forms of vitamin K: K1 and K2. Vitamin K1 is abundant in leafy green vegetables, so those who follow a healthful diet do not need to supplement with K1. Vitamin K2 – which is produced by microorganisms and is low in plant foods – is more important to supplement on a Nutritarian diet. Vitamin K is important for blood coagulation, cardiovascular health, and bone health.17 Vitamin K2 supplementation may also offer additional health benefits beyond those of K1 alone.18,19
Most plant foods are low in iodine. An exception is kelp, a sea vegetable that is a good source of iodine, but kelp is not commonly eaten on a regular basis and may actually provide excessive amounts of iodine. The chief source of iodine in the typical American diet is iodized salt. Since added salt should be avoided to prevent elevated blood pressure, arterial stiffness, and other negative effects, it is important to supplement with iodine for the optimal amounts, approximately 150 mcg/day.
Zinc is essential for immune function, growth, and reproduction, and supports hundreds of chemical reactions. Zinc is abundant in whole plant foods, but is not readily absorbed. Beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds contain zinc, but also contain substances that inhibit zinc absorption. Zinc intake and circulating zinc levels are lower in vegetarians and vegans,30,31 and zinc requirements for those on a completely plant-based diet are estimated to be about 50 percent higher than the standard recommendations.32-34
An Important Note on DHA/EPA
In this article, I am highlighting important information regarding multivitamins, but I wanted to take a moment to speak about the importance of DHA and EPA.
The long-chain omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are associated with many aspects of brain health. I recommend supplementing with these beneficial fats, since most modern diets are low in DHA and EPA unless fish is consumed regularly. Research confirms that vegans tend to have a low omega-3 index.36
No matter what your age, maintaining adequate omega-3 stores is crucial for the current and future functionality of your brain and life health. A Nutritarian diet provides many nutrients that benefit brain health, but is low in pre-formed DHA and EPA since frequent fish consumption is discouraged. Algae-based supplements are preferable to fish, to avoid excess animal protein and pollutants, such as dioxin and mercury, present in fish.
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Cheers to your health