Feeling depressed and out of options? Follow up with folate–it’s a key player in your nutritional arsenal.
Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin that occurs naturally in food, and it’s known for helping to cure anemia. What you may not know is that folate boosts your body’s production of feel-good neurotransmitters.
1. Feed your brain. Researchers have found low folate levels in up to 38% of adults diagnosed with depressive disorders. The good news is that increasing your folate intake makes a difference by upping levels of serotonin, norepinephrine and melotonin, body compounds that regulate mood and energy.
2. Folate kick-starts antidepressants. A May 2011 study shows that folate supplementation can significantly can help antidepressant medication work more effectly. Almost a third of participants taking a daily dose of 15 milligrams showed an improved response to their medication over those who were taking a placebo.
3. Check into dosages. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of folate is 400 micrograms (mcg) for adults. If you are older, increase the dose because you lose the ability to absorb folate as you age. But when it comes to depression, as little as 200 mcg of folate, or folic acid as the supplement is called, can help.
4. Popeye had it right! A healthy diet can go a long way towards filling your folate needs. Folate comes from the Latin word “folium” for leaf. Originally, folate was extracted from spinach, but you can go straight to the source. Just an easy ¾ of a cup will give you the 200 mcgs you need to start banishing depression.
Other great sources include all leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, beans, and pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
5. Healthy food preparation makes a difference. Try to prepare your food in a way that preserves vitamins – fresh vegetables have the most vitamins when eaten in a few days. Don’t overcook leafy greens. Eat them raw in salads, or steam them lightly in water and then save the water for use in soups or stews to recapture the all the vitamins lost in cooking.
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