10 Nutrients Scientifically Proven to Make You Feel Awesome
Want some pep in your step? Perhaps a dash of good cheer? (Who doesn’t, right?). Look no further than the grocery store’s shelves. Foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids are not only super healthy, but can also increase happiness, lessen symptoms of depression, and quell anxiety  .
A bit about the units used below: Mg (milligram) is the typical unit of measurement for nutrients and 1,000 mg equals 1 gram. Mcg is the abbreviation of microgram and 1,000 mcg equals 1 mg.
How eating it helps: Found in a variety of sources (non-dairy included), calcium is often paired with vitamin D to help regulate mood fluctuations attributed to PMS . Since estrogen plays a large role in calcium production, calcium consumption may improve PMS-related depression .
RDA: 1,000 mg per day for adults
Food Sources of Calcium:
- Collard greens (frozen) (1 cup): 357 mg
- Ricotta (part skim) (1/2 cup): 308 mg
- Yogurt (plain/low fat) (3/4 cup): 310 mg
- Milk (1 cup, 1%, low-fat): 305 mg
- Kale (frozen) (1 cup): 179 mg
How eating it helps: Chromium plays an important role in increasing the brains’ level of serotonin, norepinephrine, and melatonin, which help the brain regulate emotion and mood . Because chromium works directly with the brain’s mood regulators, it’s been found to be an effective treatment of depression .
RDA: 25 mcg per day for women; 35 mcg per day for men
Food Sources of Chromium:
- Broccoli (1/2 cup): 11 mcg
- Grape juice (1 cup): 8 mcg
- Whole-wheat English muffin (1 piece): 4 mcg
- Potatoes (mashed) (1 cup): 3 mcg
- Turkey breast (1/3 cup): 2 mcg
How eating it helps: A pair of power nutrients, Folate and B12 are often paired together to treat depression . By itself, Folate has the added benefit of boosting the efficiency of antidepressants .
RDA: 400 mg per day for adults
Food Sources of Folate:
- Spinach (1/2 cup): 131 mcg
- Black eyed peas (1/2 cup): 105 mcg
- Asparagus (4 spears): 89 mcg
- Brussels sprouts (1/2 cup): 78 mcg
- Avocado (1/2 cup): 59 mcg
How eating helps: Consuming enough iron will help prevent iron anemia (not enough iron), a condition that commonly affects women more than men. Keeping enough iron in the body is important, as the fatigue, apathy, and mood change associated with the iron deficiency can often lead to depression .
RDA: 18 mg per day for women; 8 mg per day for men
- Fortified oatmeal (instant) (1 package): 11 mg
- Soybeans (1 cup): 8.8 mg
- Lentils (1 cup): 6.6 mg
- Beef Ribeye (1 5oz. fillet): 3.8 mg
- Turkey (dark meat) (1/3 cup): 2.0 mg
How eating it helps: Magnesium plays a large role in the development of serotonin, which is a major contributor to feelings of happiness . Due to its ability to help regulate emotions, it’s a common element in homeopathic remedies for balancing mood .
RDA: 310 mg per day for women; 400 mg per day for men
Food Sources of Magnesium:
- Almonds (1/8 cup): 79 mg
- Spinach (1/2 cup): 78 mg
- Cashews (1/8 cup): 74 mg
- Peanuts (1/4 cup): 63 mg
- Edamame (1/2 cup): 50 mg
How eating it helps: Studies show a correlation between consumption of fish with high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids and a decreased risk of depression and suicide . Whether eating fish or snacking on chia seeds, increasing your intake of omega 3 fatty acids may help combat depression .
RDA: There is no established RDA for Omega-3s, but the American Heart Association suggests eating a variety of fish (trout, herring, and salmon) at least twice a week. For vegetarians, there are also plenty of non-meat sources of Omega-3s (see below for a few suggestions).
Food Sources of Omega-3:
- Chia seeds (1/8 cup): 4915 mg
- Atlantic Salmon (1/2 fillet): 3982
- Chinese Broccoli (1 cup): 227 mg
- Atlantic Herring (1 5oz fillet): 3171 mg
- Spinach (1 cup): 381 mg
7. Vitamin B6
How eating it helps: Consuming vitamin B6 is essential for regulating brain function, which influences our emotions . In addition to regulating healthy moods, Vitamin B6 is also an effective method for treating premenstrual depression .
RDA: 1.3 mg per day for adults
Food Sources of B6:
- Chickpeas canned (1 cup): 1.1 mg
- Yellow fin tuna (1/3 cup): 0.9 mg
- Salmon (1 3oz fillet): 1 mg
- Chicken breasts (1 piece, skinless and boneless): 0.5 mg
- Fortified breakfast cereals (3/4 cup): 0.5 mg
8. Vitamin B12
How eating it helps: Because moods depend largely on signals from the brain, B12 plays an important role in regulating depression — consuming enough vitamin B12 allows the body to synthesize a group of nutrients critical for normal neurological function .
RDA: 2.4 mcg per day for adults
Food Sources of B12:
- Rainbow Trout (1 fillet): 9 mcg
- Sockeye Salmon (1 3oz. fillet): 17.6 mcg
- Swiss Cheese (1/8 cup): 4.4 mcg
- Mozzarella Cheese (1/8 cup): 3.0 mcg
- Tuna (canned in water)(1 small 3.5oz. can): 2.5 mcg
9. Vitamin D
How eating it helps: If you’re feeling blue, increasing vitamin D could help ward off depression. Consuming the mood-regulating vitamin is important, especially during the wintertime when light from the sun (a natural producer of vitamin D) is limited .
RDA: 600 IU per day for adults ages 15 to 60
Food Sources of Vitamin D:
- Cod liver oil (1 tablespoon): 1,360 IU
- Salmon (1 3oz. fillet): 646 IU
- Swordfish (1/3 cup): 566 IU
- Chanterelle Mushrooms (1 cup) :114 IU
- Milk (1 cup): 115-124 IU
How eating it helps: Studies have identified zinc as an important factor in decreasing depressive symptoms, as the vitamin can improve the response of antidepressants while reducing the side effects of anti-depression medication . A lack of zinc can trigger depressive behaviors, so load up on zinc-rich foods to balance your mood. .
RDA: 11mg per day for men; 8mg per day for women
Food Sources of Zinc:
- Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (1 cup): 9.5 mg
- Cashews (1 cup, dry roasted): 7.67 mg
- King Alaska Crab (1 leg): 10.2 mg
- Pork Loin (1 6-7oz. chop): 3.5 mg
- Swiss Cheese (1/8 cup): 1.2 mg
What foods do you eat for maximum happiness? Share in the comments below, or get in touch with us on Facebook!