Are Anxiety and Depression Supplements Really Effective? Unraveling the Impact of Diet on Mood

Are Anxiety and Depression Supplements Really Effective? Unraveling the Impact of Diet on Mood

“Open the search bar and type ‘anti-anxiety, anti-depression,’ and you’ll find keywords like ‘happy foods’ and ‘mood-stabilizing nutrients.’ It seems like all you need is a pill to solve all your problems. But before you start supplementing, have you examined your diet?


The Efficacy of ‘Happiness’ Nutrients

The human emotional mechanism is actually very complex, and external factors like environment, relationships, stress, weather, and time can all lead to different emotions.

However, when we look at the physiological mechanism, needs like emotions and sleep are regulated through serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, and when the concentration of serotonin in the blood is sufficient, it can stabilize a person’s mood, improve concentration, and aid in sleep.

So, the common ‘happiness nutrients’ typically relate to the regulation of serotonin or are associated with the stable functioning of the nervous system. Most anti-anxiety and anti-depression health supplements available on the market contain ingredients within this realm.


  1. Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that the body cannot synthesize on its own. After being metabolized by the body, it is converted into serotonin, helping maintain stable serotonin levels in the blood.”[1]

Recommended Reading: What Is Tryptophan? Tryptophan: Benefits, Side Effects, and Food Sources


  1. B-Vitamins

B-vitamins primarily affect neurotransmitter synthesis and transmission, assisting in emotional regulation and stability.

Recommended Reading: What Are the Benefits and Side Effects of B-Vitamins? A Comprehensive Guide to Vitamin B


  1. Omega-3 (Mainly EPA)

Omega-3, particularly EPA, can help combat inflammation, neutralize oxidative reactions caused by free radicals in the body, and further improve mood.

Recommended Reading: What Is EPA? What Are Its Benefits? How Does EPA Improve Depression?”

However, is it enough to simply supplement with these anti-anxiety and anti-depression health products? In addition to the so-called ‘happy nutrients,’ there are many factors that influence mood. Diet, as a source of energy for the body, also affects mood through blood sugar, immune response, and gut microbiota. [2][3][4]


High Glycemic Foods Lead to Blood Sugar Fluctuations and Possible Depression

When we are hungry, we tend to become irritable and have decreased focus as our bodies signal us to eat. When we eat and our blood sugar rises, we tend to feel better and can continue with our activities. This is a normal body mechanism. However, foods that cause rapid spikes in blood sugar can also lead to quick drops, causing fluctuations in mood-regulating hormones and potentially resulting in depressive feelings. [2][5]

Poor Food Choices: Processed carbohydrates like sugary drinks and desserts. Remedy: Avoid processed carbohydrates and consume nutrients, such as B-vitamins, that support blood sugar metabolism.


Fatty Foods Leading to Inflammation and Mood Swings

Excessive saturated fats can stimulate cellular inflammation in the body and also affect the brain, resulting in decreased cognitive function, impaired short-term memory, and even an increased risk of mood disorders. Of course, bodily inflammation doesn’t necessarily lead to depression or anxiety, but randomized trials have found that anti-inflammatory drugs can alleviate depressive symptoms. Reducing inflammation in the body can indeed help improve mood. [2][3][4]

Poor Food Choices: Fried foods, fatty meats, refined bread, and other high-fat diets. Remedy: Adopt a low-fat diet or increase consumption of anti-inflammatory nutrients like Omega-3.

Low Fiber Foods Leading to Poor Gut Microbiota and Reduced Attention and Depression

The gut microbiota ecosystem has been proven to be one of the most significant factors influencing mood. The gut is rich in about 70% of the body’s immune cells, 90% of the so-called ‘happy hormones’ like dopamine and serotonin, and through the gut-brain axis, discomfort in the gut can transmit signals to the brain, causing negative emotions and discomfort in hopes of prompting the body to improve. [2][3][6]


For the gut microbiota to function effectively, it needs to form a balanced ecosystem.

Poor Food Choices: A diet that is too limited and lacks sufficient fiber intake. Remedy: Consume a variety of vegetables and mushrooms to increase fiber intake and supplement with probiotics to nurture a healthy gut microbiota ecosystem.


High-fat foods can lead to inflammation in the body, resulting in mood disturbances.

Excessive saturated fat can stimulate inflammation in body cells and also affect the brain, leading to reduced cognitive abilities, poor short-term memory, and an increased risk of mood disorders. While body inflammation doesn’t guarantee depression or anxiety, randomized trials have shown that anti-inflammatory medications can help alleviate symptoms of depression. Reducing body inflammation can indeed aid in improving mood[2][3][4].

Common dietary mistakes: Consuming high-fat foods like fried foods, fatty meats, and refined bread. Countermeasures: Adopting a low-fat diet or increasing the intake of anti-inflammatory nutrients such as Omega-3.


Low-fiber foods lead to poor gut microbiota, resulting in decreased attention and depression.

The ecosystem of microorganisms in the gut has been proven to be one of the biggest factors influencing mood. The gut contains about 70% of the body’s immune cells and about 90% of the so-called “happy hormones” like dopamine and serotonin. Furthermore, through the gut-brain axis, discomfort in the gut is transmitted to the brain, resulting in unpleasant and uncomfortable emotions, in the hope that the body can improve[2][3][6].


For the gut microbiota to function effectively, it must form an “ecosystem.

Common dietary mistakes: Consuming a diet that lacks variety and is insufficient in fiber. Countermeasures: Increasing the consumption of different vegetables, mushrooms, and fiber supplements to enhance the gut’s ecosystem by introducing beneficial gut bacteria.

Recommended reading: What are Probiotics? An Expert Guide to Understanding the 6 Benefits and Side Effects of Probiotics


Emotional Eating in Adolescents

When emotions are unstable, there is also a greater tendency for emotional eating issues to arise. It was previously believed that emotional eating only occurred when in a bad mood, but research has shown that children and adolescents are also prone to overeating when in a good mood, consuming more high-fat, high-sugar, and high-salt foods.

In simple terms, emotional regulation should ideally take place through the brain. However, children and adolescents tend to use food to help regulate their emotions. Once this habit is formed, it can persist into adulthood, where individuals continue to rely on food to relieve stress or express happiness. Over time, unhealthy eating can lead to more negative emotions and fatigue, creating a vicious cycle[7].

Recommended reading: Essential Nutrients for Brain Development! Understanding How to Eat Iron, Zinc, Iodine, DHA, and B12 All at Once


Fatigue is Associated with Poor Eating

In addition to obvious symptoms of depression and anxiety, a sense of fatigue is one of the signs of emotional instability. When we say “fatigue,” it encompasses both emotional and physical fatigue. This is reflected in symptoms such as reduced patience, lack of motivation, and a feeling of low energy.

In reality, our daily energy requirements are higher than we might think. Apart from nutrition, a significant amount of oxygen is also consumed. The key to regulating oxygen levels in the body lies in the B-vitamins and minerals. In other words, a deficiency in vitamins or minerals can lead to inadequate oxygen supply, making a person more susceptible to feelings of fatigue[8].


Obtaining Energy from Food and Improving Mood

In addition to increasing the intake of foods that can produce “happy nutrients,” it is important to reduce the consumption of high glycemic, high-fat, low-fiber foods to avoid pushing your body towards emotional lows. Also, increasing the intake of nutrients that can help metabolize these detrimental elements, such as vitamins and minerals, can alleviate the burden on your body.


  1. B-Vitamins

Especially B1 and B6 can help metabolize high sugar, reducing the risk of diabetes complications[9]. B2, B6, B9, and B12 aid in oxygen transport.


  1. Vitamins C and E

These vitamins assist in antioxidant defense, preventing free radicals from harming the brain.


  1. Iron

Iron is crucial for oxygen transport. Iron deficiency can lead to iron-deficiency anemia. However, excessive iron can be toxic. Therefore, it’s recommended to obtain iron from dietary sources, and if necessary, consider supplements[10].


  1. Magnesium

While magnesium supplementation doesn’t directly contribute to antioxidant defenses, magnesium deficiency can lead to inflammation in the body. It’s important to ensure an adequate intake of magnesium[10].


  1. Zinc

Zinc also aids in antioxidant defenses and can regulate inflammatory responses[10].

In summary, although a person’s mood can be influenced by various external factors, a diverse diet with a variety of foods, along with timely supplementation of necessary nutrients, can indeed help stabilize one’s mood and navigate through challenging times. Having sufficient nutrition is not only a physiological requirement but also a key to psychological stability.


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