While it may be hard to feel motivated to do new things amidst the prevailing contagion, all hope is not lost.
One way to help boost your mood is through your diet — specifically, by making sure you’re getting the right vitamins and minerals your body needs to function at its best.
Our busy lives do not always ensure we are getting the right nutrients.
So, The Independent asked experts to share a handful of key vitamin supplements that may help to support mental health, and keep your spirits high over the next few months.
1. Vitamin B12
B vitamins, like vitamin B12, are a common dietary. Vitamin B12 is naturally found in meat and fish, so if you’re trying to cut down on your consumption this year, you should consider taking a supplement and looking for foods that are fortified with the vitamin.
“B12 is essential for optimising our mood and mental performance because it’s essential for the production of serotonin,” says dietician Sophie Medlin.
She explains that serotonin is our ‘happy’ hormone; the neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of wellbeing in our brain.
“B12 deficiency can cause symptoms that mimic dementia, and deficiency is becoming more common as many people are moving to plant-based diets,” Medlin warns.
Elizabeth Stewart, registered associate nutritionist for Vital says that there are other benefits to making sure you’re levels are topped up too.
“As well as supporting mood, B12 maintains healthy red blood cells and DNA production, which is essential for feeling energised.”
Some small studies have concluded that omega-3 fatty acids can help with mood disorders.
Omega-3s are a family of polyunsaturated ‘healthy’ fats that are thought to have many health benefits, including a supporting role in your overall wellbeing.
“Omega 3s from fish oils form the structure of our brain when it’s at its healthiest,” explains Medlin. “When we aren’t getting enough in our diet, it affects our mood and our mental performance, too.”
Fish and other seafood, as well as nuts and seeds, are great sources of Omega-3s, but you can also take a supplement if you’re concerned you might not be getting enough through your diet.
Magnesium supports thousands of different reactions within the body, making it a really important nutrient in our diets.
One of its major roles is maintaining normal nerve and muscle function. “Magnesium can help to calm the nervous system, reducing feelings of stress and anxiety,” explains Medlin.
Pulses, whole grains, nuts and seeds all contain magnesium, but many people are getting insufficient amounts and don’t reach the recommended daily intake.
Feeling fatigued is a sign that you might not be getting enough, as well as muscle cramps and constipation.
Zinc plays an important role in supporting a healthy immune system, and it can also have a positive effect on your mental health too.
“Zinc deficiency causes a depressive-like state and anxiety behaviours, and it has been used in research to improve mood and cognitive function,” explains Medlin.
“This is because of the role it plays in crucial neurotransmitters that control our mental function and mood.”
As per nutritionist Libby Limon, Ashwagandha is an ancient Indian ayurvedic herb that can promote reduce stress and keep you calm.
She says: “Ashwagandha can help our bodies to restore balance by providing adrenal support and balancing the stress hormone cortisol.
“It also balances hormonal levels and provides potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help to support the immune system.
“Plus, it fights fatigue, providing adrenal support to boost energy levels, and increase stamina and endurance.”