Saturday, August 27, 2011

Lack of vitamins & mineral causes depression & anxiety

So you tell your doctor you've depression and anxiety. Before prescribing Prozac, Zoloft, Luvox, Paxil or Aeropax and other SSRI types, how many bother to ask about your diet ?  Sure antidepressants "work" , well sort of, but in many cases, you get hooked on them. All have side effects, especially when you stop taking them suddenly (which is highly inadvisable). Despite receiving extensive education, psychiatrists and modern doctors ( those who are not holistically trained ) rarely stop to consider using food as medicine. Can't blame them, they were not taught that in Med school .. but  are ALL conditioned to treat all illness with drugs. When your only tool is a hammer, doesn't everything around start looking like nails ? How common is depression ? One source suggest 1 in 5 Australian teenager suffers from adolescent depression.

There's an enlightened school of thought suggests 70% of depression and anxiety related cases are caused by nutritional deficiencies or hypoglycemia and therefore easily fixed, albeit not a quick one. There's even some discussion about the nutritional links to Bipolar Disorder. Mineral deficiencies have a serious impact on Bipolar disorders. The remaining 30% are situational (bereavement etc) or are not nutritionally related and can only be help with pharmaceutical medication. Strangely enough before modern pharmaceutical industry was developed ( since 1950s), most doctors did treat illnesses with food. Now is that food for thought ?

More here .

Note that people who have depression also have sleep problems,  anxiety , panic attacks and many also don't eat well or have digestion / absorption issues.  These cluster symptoms  can easily be explained. Optimum levels of Serotonin in the day time keeps you calm( relaxed) and in good mood ( not depressed ). Optimum levels of Melatonin in the night time ensures you fall asleep easily and enjoy deep  and restful sleep with REM. Serotonin converts to melatonin at night.
If you lack one, you will most likely also lack the other  !

Depression and anxiety is not a deficiency of Prozac ! 

This is the the battle-cry of holistically trained doctors, who unlike the majority,  try to use food as medicine. Depression and Anxiety can occur as a result of a deficiency in 1 or several critical minerals and vitamins.
You will almost certainly suffer depression and/ or anxiety attacks if you are deficient in one or more of the following:

2. Zinc
3. Iron

4. B complex vitamins :  B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, Biotin (B7) &  Folic Acid (B9 )

5. Vitamin D
6. Omega 3 fatty acids

7. Low or unstable blood sugar ( Hypoglycemia )
8. Deep, restful uninterrupted sleep ( shift work is very bad for this )

9. No ( Magnesium, Zinc, Vitamin B & C )  =  No Sleep, No happiness.......

Deficiency in such vitamins & minerals is strongly linked to depression & anxiety  

But how do mineral and vitamin deficiencies happen?
Vegetarians avoid foods containing vital minerals & vitamins
If you are vegetarian or vegan, you're probably missing some critical nutrients in your diet such as Zinc, Iron and Vitamin B12 & Vitamin D which are primarily found in meat / fish . Vegetable sources are often unsatisfactory due to low digestibility and bio-unavailability .
Many vegetarians, especially if you have been eating meat for many years and suddenly switch to vegetarianism, suffer depression and anxiety for these reasons alone.

Mineral blockers you may be unwittingly taking
Drinking TOO much black tea or Soy milk, or have indigestion ( regular stomach ache, diarhea, IBS) may contribute to depression and anxiety for some people. Soy phytates and tea tannins BLOCK absorption of these magnesium, iron, zinc in your digestive system. Black tea taken in the same meal as a Iron rich steak inhibits Iron absorption. Is this the reason why many British people suffer from Iron deficiency? Phytates in Soya beans are considered heat resistant anti nutrients. Google this yourself if you find it incredulous.

Dietary deficiencies - not eating enough of the right stuff
So you are not vegetarian, but if you don't eat enough  dark green leafy ( Silver beet, spinach, kale, Choy Sum, Bok Choy) you are not eating Magnesium rich veggies. Good vegetables like carrots, cabbage, pumpkin, tomatoes, potatoes and lettuce do not contain enough Magnesium. Also if you don't eat bean, legumes and lentils, you are missing out on magnesium.

Meat is a very good source of Vitamin B complex, in particular vitamin B12 which is found mostly in meat.
The B12 in non meat source are too little and often occurs in bio-unavailable form.
Many beans, lentils and wheat products contain the rest of the B vitamins, so if you miss out eating these as a vegetarian, you are putting yourself at great risk of depression and anxiety attacks.
Most vegetarians are deficient in Vitamin B12, Zinc and Iron despite all their good organic intentions .
Many people are unable to absorb dietary vitamin B12. In this case they opt for B12 injections or high dose oral  or high does sub lingual pills. Consult only a nutritionally educated doctor about this.
Note: Not all doctors are nutritionally minded.


An excellent pill supplement is Blackmores Vitamin B complex, which, unlike Berrocca, has no artificial sweetener Aspartame. I would suggest avoiding yeast based sources of Vitamin B complex such as Vegemite or Marmite to avoid potential complications if you happen to have Candida in your gut.

Gut disorders prevent mineral absorption
Which then begs the question " But I eat lots of meat and mineral rich veggies, how could I possibly be  mineral deficient ? " The answer lies in the weakest link- your body's inability to absorb minerals like iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium and perhaps selenium and manganese. Mineral deficiency caused by poor digestion / absorption is fairly common !

If you frequently experience symptoms such as regular tummy aches, diarrhea, stomach bloating, burping, farting, feeling the food sits in the tummy for a long time  after a meal, you probably have a digestion related issue which must be fixed first before you can fix you mineral absorption problems. Gas is a CLEAR indicator of indigestion as poorly digested food reacts badly with gut bacteria to produce gas. If you can't digest well, you can't absorb mineral well.

For some people, they simply cannot absorb Vitamin B12 due low levels of  (gastric) Intrinsic Factor, stomach acid or after effects of Gastric ulcers ( especially  Hello Pylori bacteria). In fact if you suspect B12 deficiency, do check if you previously suffered gastritis / gastic ulcers ....
In this case oral supplementation may not be effective unless higher doses are used, or  sub-lingual ( under tongue) supplementation and  B12 injections --- a common occurrence in older folks. Please seek the advice of a health professional ( medical doctor  or nutritionist)  before you do this.

As well if you have gut disorders such as chronic indigestion, Crohn's disease, IBS ( Irritable Bowel Sydrome), Leaky gut syndrome, Candida fungus in gut,  your depression /anxiety may be caused by insufficient Serotonin - the neurotransmitter that keeps you in good mood and happy.
Does it surprise you that Serotonin is mostly made in the gut/ intestines? ...and not the brain ?
It stands to reason  that when you have intestinal problems, you may be depressed.
Why hasn't your doctor explained this to you?


Foods that flush minerals from your liver
Alcohol flushes of Magnesium, Zinc, B complex vitamins, Selenium and Manganese from your liver, giving you an instant mineral deficiency ... this may explain why you have zinc and magnesium induced depression DESPITE having a healthy diet full of Zinc and Magnesium.

Phosphoric acids in most soft fizzy drinks binds Magnesium and makes it bio unavailable. It is no surprise that weekend binge drinkers, alcoholics and daily consumers of alcohol suffer from depression and anxiety caused by artificially induced loss of minerals and vitamins. As well, this might explain why so many coke loving teenage fizzy drinks loving teens suffer depression !
If you lack these vitamin and mineral nutrients, your body cannot manufacture sufficient serotonin and melatonin, which then affect you mood and sleep.

Excessive sweating makes you lose minerals
If you sweat a lot ( excessive endurance sports) you are sweating out Magnesium ...which explains why you may have magnesium-deficiency-induced cramps at the end of a triathlon, long endurance  or cardio work out session, regular sauna or steam baths, long hot bath/ shower etc

*A heart attack is often a cramp of the heart muscle....in many hospitals, a magnesium injection is often one of the first things they may give you if you arrive in an ambulance at the A & E ward.

Stress makes you excrete more Magnesium
..and sadly perpetuates a negatively reinforced vicious cycle

Calcium, Vitamin D and depression:
A warning here.  Calcium and Magnesium work together. Too much of one affects absorption of the other. For too many years ignorant doctors have been advising people to take more calcium  to alleviate their Osteoporosis....yet the data shows little improvement in many cases. This is because they only explained half the picture. Calcium works best when the Calcium - Magnesium balance is correct. Also the presence of sufficient Vitamin D ( sunlight or pills ) is critical to Calcium absorption. If you don't eat enough oily fish or expose your self to sunlight for at least 10-15mins a day... you are a strong candidate for Vitamin D deficiency... itself recently linked to Depression .

Put simply, if you take Calcium supplements, make sure you also take Magnesium ( separately, several hours apart for optimal absorption). Calcium is found mostly in meat, dairy and green veggies like Broccoli, Spinach and certain brands of expensive mineral water ( check the label).

If years of Calcium intake has not made your Osteoporosis better, consider a non diary source and adding Magnesium supplementation to your diet.

Low blood sugar ( Hypoglycemia )
Chronically low blood sugar may trigger the fight/ flight response of your Sympathetic Nervous System which in turns triggers more adrenalin release, making you anxious .


If  you  suspect a hypoglycemia link, try this.
The next time you feel depressed or get an anxiety attack, eat a banana or drink a glass unsweetened orange juice on an empty stomach, to raise your blood sugar level quickly. Observe if the depression/ anxiety decreases ( feel better ) significantly within 20-30mins and then increase ( feel worse) after that. If that happens, it suggests a low blood sugar link. The next thing to do is to get proper blood test done at a doctor's office to ascertain if you are hypoglycemic.
From then on  AVOID eating high GI carbohydrates like sugar, potatoes, bananas, soft drinks, fruit juices.
Try lower GI carbs like rice, apples pears, peaches and others - research this on the internet yourself.
A low GI diet ensures you don't have a roller coaster blood sugar level,which in turn affect mood & anxiety.

Nutrients and its effect on Sleep disorders & Depression 
If you don't have enough Magnesium, Zinc Vitamin B6, Vitamin C,  you may experience depression due to lack of Serotonin ( the natural brain chemical  that keep you in a good mood) in your waking hours.
If you don't have enough enough Magnesium, Zinc Vitamin B6, Vitamin C you may have Insomnia due to lack of Melatonin ( the natural brain chemical that helps you sleep ), at night.

Depression, Anxiety, Panic attacks, sleep disorders and insomnia, neck pains, stiff back are often cluster symptoms. Meaning, if you have one, you are likely to have the some of the others. If  this fits your condition, you might like to seriously consider looking at your condition from a nutritional point of view. Consult a Naturopath or a medical doctor who is wholistic ( integrative medicine)  ie. He/she  usually will have a 2nd degree in nutritional science / naturopathy in addition to a first degree in medicine. Sadly 95% of  modern medical doctors are NOT WHOLISTICALLY trained.

Dr. Carolyn Dean ( Magnesium Miracle book),  Dr. Sandra Cabot ( in Sydney ), Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Don Colbert  are 4 such examples of enlightened wholistic doctors and their books are available at Amazon.com .

http://www.nutritionalmagnesium.org/ <<<<<<<

References