Top 10 Vitamins and Minerals that will boost your Happiness in no time

Dear friend,

During my time in preschool, a million years ago, we had to stand in line every morning to get a spoon full of cod liver oil.

I grew up in Germany and at that time it was about 15 years after the 2nd World War. My parents had a huge garden where they produced lots of fruits and vegetables, but I guess that most of the other children weren’t that lucky, so our preschool teachers gave us a little extra cod liver oil to make sure we would all stay healthy.

Back then we mostly ate vegetables and only sometimes ate a little meat or fish. Our bread was dark and made from rye, and we were very rarely given cakes, cookies or candy. Of course we also ate monstrosities like margarine, because no one could afford to feed a family butter on one meager salary. Still I think our diets were fairly healthy. Most foods came straight from the ground to the kitchen to the table. Fish were caught in the nearby river, and the cows, pigs and birds we ate, had been raised on fields a few hundred meters away. We didn’t use chemical fertilizers or pesticides of any kind, so the ground was healthy and so were we.

Since then many things have changed. I now live in Denmark and the food industry has changed significantly. Most Danes still prepare their meals from scratch, trying to create a healthy and balanced meal for their family, but many are still unaware of where the ingredients actually come from and under which circumstances they were cultivated.

Now a day we can get all kinds of meats, but most of the time the animals, we end up eating, are treated badly and fed the wrong foods, the fish we eat are delivered from fish farms, where they swim in a sewage of their own crap, are given the wrong kind of food and stuffed with antibiotics. Our fruits and vegetables come from soil that’s totally depleted and sprayed with fertilizers and pesticides on mass. And maybe they are even GMO, which is really BAD. To make a long story short, our food no longer contains all the minerals and vitamins that we need, and that has a ton of bad consequences.

Your happiness depends on many different things, and one of them is a normal brain function.

A healthy cognitive system is essential to regulating your mood, and whether or not you take in vitamins, minerals and fatty acids every day, has a profound impact on how happy you are. Researchers have studied the connection between foods and the brain and found ten nutrients that can combat depression and boost your mood:  Those ten are: calcium, chromium, folate, iron, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin D3 and zinc.

The following is a description of the ten nutrients, what they are good for, and where you can get them. It’s by no means a complete list. There are other nutrients that can have a huge impact on our level of wellbeing and happiness, like for instance niacin (Vitamin B3), which according to Dr. Andrew Saul can do miracles for clinically depressed people, but that’s a totally different story.

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So, for the ten vitamins and minerals, here you go:

  1. Vitamin B12 or cobalamin – is an essential element that aids in the creation of red blood cells and nerves. Deficiency of vitamin B12 can cause short-term fatigue, slowed reasoning and paranoia, and is associated with depression. B12 plays an important role in regulating depression and taking sufficient amounts of vitamin B12 allows the body to synthesize a group of nutrients critical for normal neurological function.
    You get vitamin B12 from sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, lamb, scallops, shrimp, beef, yoghurt or cow’s milk. If you are a vegan it’s very important for your mental health that you take vitamin B12 in pill form.
  2. Omega-3 fatty acids – are important for brain health and make up as much as 18 percent of the brain’s weight. Your body doesn’t produce omega-3, so you have to take it in some way. Symptoms of deficiency are fatigue, mood swings, memory decline and depression. Studies have shown a connection between the intake of fish high in omega-3 fatty acids and a lower risk of depression and suicide.
    The richest source of omega-3 fatty acids is flaxseeds closely followed by walnuts. To get the omega-3 out of the flaxseeds you have to ground them, but no earlier than max 15 minutes before you eat them, because omega-3 is very fragile and it goes rancid very quickly. Other good sources of omega-3 are sardines, salmon, beef, soybeans, tofu, shrimps, Brussel sprouts and cauliflower.
  3. Iron – plays an important role in the body, from transporting oxygen to supporting energy levels and aiding muscle strength. Low levels of iron can lead to feelings of fatigue and depression. It’s important to keep enough iron in the body, because the mood change, fatigue and apathy associated with iron deficiency often can lead to depression.
    You get iron from beef liver, chicken liver, clams, mollusks, mussels, oysters, beef, sardines, turkey, chicken, halibut, haddock, perch, salmon, tuna, ham, veal, beans, tofu (make sure to get the organic kind of tuna). If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you can get your iron from beans like lima beans, red kidney beans, chickpeas or split peas, or tofu, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds or squash seeds, dried apricots, peanuts, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, roasted almonds, roasted cashews or sunflower seeds, raisins, peaches or prunes, spinach, green pepper, pasta or rice.
    To get the most iron out of your food avoid eating it with calcium-rich foods or to drink coffee or tea with your food. Instead you can eat it with a good source of vitamin C like orange juice, broccoli or strawberries. It’s easier for your body to absorb the iron from the vegetable, seed, nuts, fruit, pasta, rice group, if you eat it together with a food from the meat, fish and poultry group.
  4. Chromium – a trace mineral found in the body in small amounts. It helps the body metabolize food, and a lack of chromium weakens the body’s ability to regulate insulin. It’s important for increasing the brain’s level of serotonin, norepinephrine, and melatonin, which help the brain regulate emotion and mood.
    You could cover your need for chromium by adding barley and oats to your diet, but if you’re sensitive to gluten – and who isn’t these days – that’s not such a good idea. Instead you can eat broccoli, green beans, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, potatoes, and turkey breast, and drink some grape juice.
  5. Calcium – though I wouldn’t recommend taking calcium pills and haven’t done so for many years myself, calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and plays an important role in maintaining strong bones and healthy blood vessels as well as reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. Low levels of calcium may also play a role in PMS-related depression.
    You get calcium from dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt (the discussion about the positive versus the negative sides of dairy is still going on though), but you can also get your calcium from vegetables like collard greens and kale, spinach, turnip greens, mustard greens, beet greens, and tofu and sardines.
  6. Folate – also known as B9 or folic acid, helps the body create new cells and supports the regulation of serotonin. Serotonin is a major contributor to feelings of happiness and passes messages between nerve cells and helps your brain manage a variety of functions from determining mood to regulating social behavior. Folate and B12 are often given together to treat depression. Taken alone Folate boosts the efficiency of antidepressants.
    Folate and Folic acid are not the same.  Folate is the bioavailable form of vitamin B9 and is found in many plant and animal foods. Folic acid on the other hand is the synthetic form of the vitamin often found in supplements and fortified foods. Though the body utilizes folic acid, the body is more adept at using folate and will maintain a healthy level of it by releasing any eventual surplus through the urine.
    Folate is found in dark leafy greens like spinach, collard greens and turnip greens, but also in asparagus, broccoli, citrus fruits, beans, peas and lentils, avocado, okra, Brussels sprouts, seeds and nuts, cauliflower, beets, corn (make sure to get the organic kind), celery (celery is one of the dirty dozen, if you buy it conventional, so make sure to get it organic), carrots and squash.
  7. Magnesium – is a mineral that plays over 300 roles in maintaining and protecting your bodies health. Being deficient in magnesium can cause irritability, fatigue, mental confusion, and predisposition to stress. Like folate magnesium also plays a large role in the development of serotonin. Because magnesium is able to help regulate emotions, it’s a common element in homeopathic remedies for balancing mood.
    You get magnesium from spinach, chard, pumpkin seeds, yogurt or kefir, almonds, black beans, avocado, figs, dark chocolate, bananas, salmon, coriander, cashews, goat cheese and artichokes.
  8. Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine – helps produce neurotransmitters which send messages from the brain to the rest of the body. Deficiency in B6 can on short term cause anemia, and in the long term it can amongst other things cause a weakened immune system, confusion and depression. B6 is essential for regulating your brain function and influencing your emotions.
    You can get vitamin B6 from tuna (go for the sorts that aren’t threatened and are caught in ways that don’t harm dolphins), turkey, beef, chicken, salmon, sweet potatoes, potatoes, sunflower seeds, spinach and bananas.
  9. Vitamin D3 – the sunshine vitamin – helps regulate cell growth, plays an important role in maintaining the immune system, and protects bones when it’s paired with calcium. Studies show that low levels of vitamin D3 are associated with depressive symptoms in both men and women (not to mention with cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and many other diseases).
    If you don’t get enough sun (which you definitely should) you can get vitamin D3 from fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines, or tuna, cow’s milk, eggs and shiitake mushrooms amongst other things.
  10. Zinc – is found in almost every cell and plays an important role in supporting a healthy immune system and helping the body protect the gut from damage. Zinc deficiency can lead to many different problems, including a weakened immune system, loss of appetite, anemia, hair loss and depression. Studies have shown that zinc can improve the response of antidepressants while reducing the side effects of anti-depression medication.
    You get zinc from eating beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, cashews, turkey, quinoa or shrimps.

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So what should you eat to boost your mood?

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The most important part here is to eat real food, because you can only get the right things out of your food if your food was farmed under the right conditions. When foraging you should always go for organic, grass fed or wild caught, especially when you buy wheat, barley, oats and rye, prawns, salmon and other kinds of fish, corn, soy and everything made from soy, beef, pork, and poultry. Yes, it is more expensive, and yes, it can be difficult to find, but you just don’t get your nutrients if you buy conventionally farmed foods, and you get a lot of unwanted chemicals instead.

Take one or maybe two foods from each vitamin group and put them together to create a meal you would like to eat, and by doing so you will not only get the above mentioned vitamins and minerals, but also a long line of other vitamins, minerals and trace minerals your body needs.

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For breakfast you could eat:

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a few eggs for vitamin D,

some smoked salmon for vitamin B6 and B12 and Omega-3,

a little spinach for magnesium and folate,

a few tomatoes for chromium,

or

some almond milk for magnesium,

some chia seeds for omega-3 fatty acids,

some chopped, dried apricots for iron,

a little chopped dark chocolate for more magnesium,

some banana for vitamin B6,

(soak the chia seeds in the almond milk overnight, and eat it instead of yogurt with a sprinkle of chopped dried apricots and dark chocolate and/or some banana),

or

a whole-wheat muffin for chromium,

a little Swiss cheese or mozzarella cheese for vitamin B12.

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For lunch you could have:

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a juice with one or more kinds of leafy green vegetables for calcium,

some tomatoes for chromium,

some avocado for folate and magnesium,

some beef for iron, zinc and vitamin B6 and B12,

or maybe some tofu for iron and more omega-3,

some yogurt or maybe kefir (maybe in a dressing) for more calcium and magnesium.

Eat your lunch outside or go for a walk later and you get some vitamin D3 as well.

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For dinner you could have:

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some lamb for zinc and vitamin B12,

some shiitake mushrooms for vitamin D3,

a few potatoes for vitamin B6 and chromium,

some cauliflower for omega-3 and folate

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For desert you could have:

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a little yogurt or kefir for calcium and magnesium,

some figs, a little dark chocolate or some goat cheese for magnesium,

some dried apricots, peanuts, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, or roasted almonds for iron

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For snacks during the day you could choose between:

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almonds, cashews or peanuts for magnesium,

pumpkin seeds and cashews for zinc,

a yogurt for vitamin B12 and calcium (you can sprinkle a little crushed or grinded flaxseeds or some walnuts on top for omega-3),

sunflower seeds or a banana for vitamin B6,

some celery sticks or carrots for folate and a little Swiss cheese for vitamin B12,

or a glass of grape juice for chromium.

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There you go!

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By picking and choosing from the list you give your body what it needs and make it so much easier for yourself to be happy all day long.

Now I would like to hear what you think. Did this article spark a thought, or do you have a comment? Do you have any experience with vitamins that make you happy, or do you have a go-to-food you eat to get in a better mood? If so, please leave a comment below and share it with the rest of us.

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Have a great day.

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Love,

Cirsten

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