10 Nutritional Deficiencies That Cause Depression and Mood Disorders


Depression and mood disorders  are devastating health problems today.  When you go to your doctor, their answer is often a prescription for one of the various popular anti-depressant  drugs.  Many doctors do not investigate for metabolic or nutritional deficiencies that may be the ‘real problem’ for your depression. Patients have no idea why they feel so awful or where to start looking for the answer. They expect their doctor to give them real solutions. Instead they get drugs as the easy fix. Drugs are not an easy fix because of the serious side effects that come with taking them. Doctors prescribe these drugs from information they get from the drug sales rep which often is only part-truth. The side effects and dangers of these drugs are down-played or left out altogether. Prescription drugs should only be prescribed after other medical problems have been ruled out.

Learn About  10  Nutrient Deficiencies That Cause Depression and Mood Disorder Symptoms:

If you suffer from depression or mood disorders you may be deficient in one of the nutrients below.  Researchers have found that many people who suffer from depression and mood disorders are deficient in not just one nutrient but several, all contributing to the symptoms.

#1:  Healthy Food Deficiency? Junk Food Diet  Is your diet filled with sugar, junk foods, sodas, or processed foods?   Do you often skip meals.  If you suffer from depression or mood disorders, start a food diary of the foods you eat every day.  You will find answers to your health problems while doing that. Your shopping cart and refrigerator tell the story of your health. My husband works as a cashier at Walmart.  People shopping for their family fill their cart with  junk sugar filled cereal, chips, candy, soda, , TV dinners, and over-processed food in general.  Seven-Elevens thrive on selling candy, soda, and chips to the eat-on-the-run customers. There are very few fresh vegetables or fruit on the average American’s grocery list.  This is why so many Americans are obese, depressed, and suffering from diabetes.  If your life is not going well, eating junk food is not going to improve your outlook.

#2:  Omega-3 Fatty Acids Deficiency:  These are found in foods such as fish and Flax Seed Oil.  A deficiency of Omega-3 fatty acids  or an  imbalance between Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids may be  one of the contributing factors to your depression.   Omega 3 Fatty acids are important to brain function and your mental outlook on life.  They also help people who suffer from inflammation and pain problems. Researchers have found that many patients with depression and mood disorders are deficient in Omega 3 Fatty Acids.  It is important to buy fish oil that has been cold processed and tested for heavy metals and other contamination. It should state that on the label.

#3:  Vitamin D Deficiency:   Important to immune function, bones, and brain health. Sunlight is the richest source for natural Vitamin D.  The Journal Clinical Nutrition in Jan 21st, 2013 published the result of research that analyzed over 18000 British citizens for Vitamin D deficiencies and associated mental disorders links. They found that a deficiency of Vitamin D was present in patients with depression and panic disorders.  The study results stated that people who are deficient in Vitamin D are at higher risk for developing depression later in life. Most seniors are deficient in Vitamin D.  Often people working long hours in offices are deficient as well.  Get out in the sun. Take a walk during your lunch break or walk your dog. Play a game with your kids outside away from computers and the television.  Get out of the house and into the sunshine.  Just don’t overdo it if you are sensitive to the sun. Overdoing it is not good either.

#4: B-Vitamins Deficiency:   There is much research in Neuropsychiatry that proves the link between B-Vitamin deficiencies and mood disorders including depression. Buy gel capsules instead of tablets with at least 25 mg for each of the different B- Vitamins included in the formulation.

#5: Zinc , Folate, Chromium, and Iron  Deficiencies:  Patients with depression are often found deficient in many nutrients including these. Often today’s foods are sadly lacking in  minerals and trace minerals.

#6:  Iodine Deficiency:  Iodine is necessary for the thyroid to work properly. The thyroid, part of the endocrine system, is one of the most important glands in your body. The thyroid gland affects every function of the body including body temperature, immune function, and brain function.  Iodine is found in foods such as potatoes, cranberries, Kelp, Arame, Hiziki, Kombu, and Wakame.  This problem was once solved by using Iodine enriched salt. Today iodine deficiency is again becoming a problem with salt free diets. Salty chips, processed foods, and junk food do not contain iodized salt.

#7: Amino Acids Deficiency: There are 9 necessary amino acids that cannot be manufactured in your body. You must supply them to the body by eating quality food choices.

Amino acids are found in meat, eggs, fish, high quality beans, seeds and nuts.   You need  to eat a variety of different foods to furnish the body with  all the amino acids needed to be healthy. Not all foods contain all nine amino acids. Vegetable food sources for amino acids include Moringa Oleifera leaves. Your brain uses the amino acids found in the food you eat to manufacture neurotransmitters needed for optimal brain function.

What are neurotransmitters and what do they have to do with depression?  Healthy brain function needs the proper balance of neurotransmitters.  Some neurotransmitters calm the brain and others excite the brain. Their balance in the brain creates stability of emotions and thinking.  Often depression and other mental disorders are caused by imbalances in neurotransmitters. Dopamine, noradrenaline, and GABA are three important neurotransmitters often deficient in depression.  Orthomolecular physicians have found that treatment with amino acids including tryptophan, tyrosine, phenylalanine, and methionine can correct different mood disorders like depression.  The Orthomolecular doctor first takes urine and blood samples to test your amino acid levels.  Then if he finds imbalances, you will be given amino acid supplements in the optimal dosage to correct the problem.  Orthomolecular doctors treat the base cause for the depression or mental symptoms.  If it is a nutritional imbalance such as a Omega 3 deficiency, you will be prescribed that supplement.  Instead of treating with drugs, they treat the deficiencies that cause the mental symptoms with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

There are tests that prove nutrient deficiencies.  The problem is often your standard medicine doctor will not give clearance for the tests, nor will your insurance pay for them. Most doctors are not schooled in nutrition and diet. They have no time to go over your eating and lifestyle habits.  Saying that, a few companies and health providers exist who do have preventive health programs. The reality is a majority of people do not get quality preventive healthcare, especially those on Medicaid or Medical. You need to visit a holistic doctor who knows his nutrition. More than likely you will have to pay out-of-pocket for the tests. You can go through Life Extension Institute. After becoming a member, you can receive the tests through the mail. You take the kit to a lab to get your blood drawn. You then send the kit back by mail and receive the results by mail. They do not give you interpretation for the tests nor how to correct the problems found by testing. You can at least find out what vitamins and minerals you are deficient in. Drug-focused therapy is the main reason that so many people never get diagnosed properly.  Insurance plans will pay for drugs but not nutritional supplements.  That is the sad state of our health care system here.  You must take control of your health and find a doctor whose goal is holistic and preventative medicine.

References for Research:

Life Extension :  Facebook.com/LifeExtension ; Titter.com/LifeExtension ;  Life Extension Customer service: 800-678-8989   It is a paid membership to access their products and research. Reduced cost on lab tests is part of membership benefits.





Kate Freer
Master Herbalist and researcher since 1983. My husband and I live in Spring Valley, CA. We grow herbs, Moringa trees, and organic vegetables along with a flock of ducks and lop rabbits. I love writing and sharing knowledge about herbs and alternative medicine with my readers. I write for my business blog, Yahoo Voices, and now this new blog here. I look forward to this new writing opportunity.

  • Chris

    Great list thank you,although i totally disagree with #7:its a fallacy that fruit & veg are not a complete source of protein.Vegans,fruitarians are the healthiest people on earth,i know,im one of them,dont buy into the "incomplete" protein myth!

    • Scarlet

      it is very much not a myth if you do proper scientific research. it is not impossible to be healthy and vibrant on a vegan diet but it is a lot harder and absolutely requires some supplements. research Dr Wahl's, a GP who cured herself of progressive MS.

      • Aqiyl Aniys | Natural Life Energy

        Hi Scarlet, the only supplements that may be needed by a person on a plant based diet are the same supplements that may be needed by meat eaters, and that is only vitamin B12, and vitamin D. Lots of people are lacking or are deficient in vitamin D because they don't get enough sun. B12 is only and issue because natural sources of B12 have diminished because of the chemicals put into public water to kill bad bacteria which also kills good bacteria.

        I eat a plant based diet, I am 46 years old, and I don't take multivitamins and I only occasionally take B12. Other than the two vitamins listed, which are issues for everyone, supplements are needed while eating a well balanced whole food plant based diet.

        I haven't been sick in over two years since I adopted a plant based diet, and I used to suffer from sinus and chest congestion, and now they are gone. My health has been supercharged, and at 46 years old I am back in the boxing gym sparring with 20 year olds.

  • TimWebb

    The latest research clearly implicates magnesium deficiency as being a fundamental determinant in the likelihood of suffering from depression. Mg is severely lacking in most diets, owing to processing and soil depletion. This relationship of Mg to depression was discovered after researchers found that administering ketamine, the date-rape drug to people, immediately lifted even severe depressions.
    Both ketamine and magnesium bind to the NMDA receptor in the brain, together with glutamate or aspartate. Mg, by binding to the ion cleft, physically prevents ingress of calcium; if calcium gets into the neuron, it alters its electrical potential and makes it far less able to discharge normally upon stimulation.
    Doseage is probably 800 mg/day in divided doses morning and night, although at worst, Mg will only ever loosen the bowels; it is therefore extremely safe. It can be bought in the form of a kind of sea salt as magnesium chloride, in one-kg bags, and then dissolved down with a litre of water. Two 5ml spoonfuls per day would be an appropriate dose. I take it in a glass of water flavoured with half a grapefruit's worth of juice.

    Mmmm, delicious!

    See George Eby's w/s for some case histories which are illuminating.
    Mg is also intimately involved with cholesterol lowering, ( it acts to reduce levels by inhibiting the HMG-CoA reductase enzyme which statins completely destroy ), it also relaxes blood vessels therefore lowering BP, it increases energy by enabling ATP synthase to release ATP into the cell, and it is a soporific, ie the evening dose will put you to sleep rapidly, but not permanently. It is also a profound stabilizer of heart rhythm, so it is good for using before strenuous exercise, and by anyone who has electrical rhythm problems with their hearts.

    So what's not to like about magnesium?

    • Adriane Peterson

      Great points on magnesium Tim! Just wanted to mention that beside loose stools if too much is taken, people with kidney disease may have problems taking too much magnesium. Magnesium glycinate is another highly absorbable form, and recently I've read about magnesium threonate as being able to pass the blood-brain barrrier which may be helpful to those with depression or insomnia.

  • Maureen Meyerhoff

    Several yrs ago I had a blood test that said I was low in thyroid fct. That day on the radio, I heard someone talking on thyroid, saying it was a lack of iodine and the competition with other halogens for throid iodine receptors that can cause it. With all the sodium present in foods, I realized we sometimes limit our table salt (iodized), so I called the 800 numbers on several packages of foods. Lays, Campbell's, and Cheerios. They don't iodize the salt! So I started a vitamin with 120% of iodine in it, and when I had my blood re-test in several weeks, I had high thyroid fct. So they said to me on the phone that I had 2 irregular thyroid tests so they wanted to give me a prescription for synthroid. I told them then that one was low, one was high, so I wasn't taking any synthroid! I don't take the vit. every day now,and am fine. I try to use un-brominated flour, non-fluoride toothpaste, non-fluoridated and chlorinated water….

  • hotty198

    A little piece of meat isnt going to kill you to have once in a while. Also it has nutrients not found in a plant based diet.

    • Chris

      It might not kill me but it sure kills the owner of that "meat". Would you be kind enough as to tell me which nutrient is present in dead animal body parts that i cant find in a plant based diet??

      • lesa

        there are animals that are vegetarians.. & those that are carnivores .there is a BODY NEED reason for each. . Humans tend to fit in the Eat Meat category.

        also wanted to ask why SO many Vegans either over weight or constantly battling the bulge .
        if buying into the NO fat , no Animal products diet is healthy.. why are so many over weight ? proves that Fats don't make a person fat. in fact it is the lack of certain fats that causes a Storage problem..
        every one should use coconut oil & Olive oil.. as healthy fats..

        • Booho

          Don't let facts get in the way of a good rant.
          "People who follow vegan diets weigh less and consume more protective nutrients such as beta-carotene and fiber, according to a study published in next month’s issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Researchers collected data from 71,751 participants enrolled in the Adventist Health Study 2 for five years. Participants were categorized into five dietary patterns: vegan, lacto-ovo vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, and nonvegetarian. Those who followed nonvegetarian diets ate the most saturated fat and the least fiber, compared with the vegan group. The vegan group (defined as consuming animal products less than one time per month) consumed the most beta-carotene, fiber, potassium, and magnesium, compared with all other dietary groups. The vegan group had the lowest average body mass index (a measure of body weight adjusted for height) and the lowest prevalence of obesity, compared with those following all other dietary patterns. Levels of BMI and rates of obesity went up as animal product intake increased."

          • James Miller

            If you look act the true facts, people who are vegetarians don't look healthy AT ALL, pale, week, no type of muscle mass present and also suffer from MANY diseases.

            People overreact to eating meat in low amounts. They get paranoid which is totally unnecessary.

          • Aqiyl Aniys | Natural Life Energy

            This is totally not true James. I am a vegan and I am very healthy and very active, at the age of 46. I am currently back in the gym sparring young guys after my health improved 2 years ago from adopting a plant based diet.

      • louise

        You must really hate plants if you don't eat meat so as not to hurt an animal!!!

  • Brenda Cardwell

    Good list. If you follow a plant based diet you may want to supplement with D3 and B12, methylcobalimin sublingual tablets too.

  • captsue

    I was doing my blood testing through Life Extension, which was great, until I found that in many states you can get blood tests and other tests through websites that deal directly with consumers. Just do a search for 'blood testing'. You just pay online, they email you a requisition to take to your local lab, and then they email you your results. NO doctor involved. And it's the same labs the doctors use! And they often have special sales on panels of tests.

    As far as interpreting the results, that's what the internet is for. Many medical websites with that info besides the fact that your results include info as to what are normal levels for everything. Take back your independence from high priced allopathic doctors to whom you are just a dollar sign.

  • But every Vegan I know is skinny and pale, hardly healthy.

    • Chris

      This is such an old,used up,stupid cliche that i sincerely hope its a joke 😀

      I suppose all these people are "skinny,pale,hardly healthy" as well…???

    • Aqiyl Aniys | Natural Life Energy

      There are many professional athlete vegans who are not skinny and pale. I am not skinny and pale. I am slim and fit and I am highly active at 46 years of age. My weight dropped from 180lbs to 155lbs since I adopted a plant based diet. I only lost fat weight and strengthened my muscle. I box, kick-box, cycle, and run. I haven't been sick in over 2 years since adopting a plant based diet and I use to suffer form sinus and chest congestion. Done correctly, there is nothing better than a plant based diet to support healthy living.

  • Pat

    Informative article I experienced the deficiency. Anyone that is depressed request your physician to do labs! Yes prescription are to presented to patients, However, they should be use as temporary in till one get stabilized with proper vegetable and proteins. Majority of prescriptions are habit forming. Eat Healthy and Stay Active!

  • Ame3thyst3

    Thanks captsue for some great information. Will check it out as many doctors don't even really LOOK at your lab work in detail. Not good!

  • elaine

    Good article and certainly highlights so much of what we know to be supporting a plant based , alkalizing lifestyle. We need to keep this kind of info flowing and in front of more folks.

  • iron lady

    Please be aware that too much iron (hemochromatosis) can also cause depression, just as being anemic can.

  • Great list. Thanks for sharing the post. Less intake of nutrients may be the main cause of nutritional deficiency which causes the depression and other mood disorders. Sufficient intake of nutrients, dietary changes by adding lots of veggies, fruits, poultry, fish and dairy products to diet. Spending sometime in fresh air, morning sunlight will helps.

  • sister ch

    Where are 8, 9, and 10 causes?