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Natural Mood Lifters: Nature's Blues Busters

EPA and DHA
How they work: Build material for neuron membranes and neurotransmitter receptor sites; enhance neural transmission; increase serotonin levels.

Positive effects: Improve learning, memory, and modd in depression, bipolar disorder, and dyslexia.

Caution: None.

Dosage: 500-1,000 mg a day, as combined EPA/DHA fish oil supplement, or eat fatty fish three times a week as an antioxidant.

B Vitamins and Minerals: Food for Thought
Some of your brain's best friends, the B vitamins, have many roles to play in ensuring optimal brain function. They are vital for delivering oxygen to the brain and protecting it from harmful oxidants. They also help turn glucose into energy within brain cells and help to keep neurotransmitters in circulation. Vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid are most important in terms of enhancing mood.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Vitamin B6 has an important role in brain function: it's essential for the manufacture of neurotransmitters, such as the conversion of tryptophan into serotonin, and tyrosine into dopamine. As you learned, a deficiency in these important neurotransmitters can cause depression and other problems. One study showed that about one-fifth of the people with depression who took part were deficient in vitamin B6. We suggest you take 20-100 mg a day.

Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin)
Essential for the health of nerve cells, the usual dose of vitamin B12 is 10-1,000 mcg per day. Since there is a decrease with age in a stomach substance called "intrinsic factor," which is required for the absorption of vitamin B12, deficiency of B12 is a major cause of mental deterioration and confusion in older people. They may benefit from taking much higher amounts, such as 1,000 mcg daily, and from taking a form that is easier to absorb, such as tablets or liquid that dissolve under the tongue.

Folic Acid (Folate)
Like vitamin B12, folic acid is essential for oxygen delivery to the brain. Deficiency in either results in anemia. In high doses, folic acid has been shown to substantially lessen depression and symptoms of schizophrenia. You need about 400 mcg daily.

It is important to remember that B vitamins should be taken in combination to avoid possible side effects. For example, too much vitamin B6 on its own can cause neurological problems. If you want to supplement a specific B vitamin, take it along with a multivitamin containing all the other B vitamins for balance.

From a biochemical perspective, here's what to do to enhance your mood, but do bear in mind that low moods can be due to psychological factors as well.

  • Start with the Natural High Basics diet and supplements, including fish or flaxseed oil or a regular dietary intake of fish and/or flaxseeds. Your basic supplement program should include a high-strength multivitamin and vitamin C, supplying optimal amounts of B vitamins.
  • Balance your blood-sugar levels by avoiding sugar and stimulants and eating slow-releasing carbohydrates such as whole grains and fruit. Remember that a high-carbohydrate meal can make you drowsy, as can low blood sugar.


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From NATURAL HIGHS: Supplements, Nutrition, and Mind/Body Techniques to Help You Feel Good by Hyla Cass and Patrick Holford. Copyright Hyla Cass, M.D., and Patrick Holford. Used by arrangement with Avery, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit www.penguin.com. Get a 15% discount with the coupon code FENPARENT.


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