We all deal with stress and anxiety from time to time (often daily!) and by now, we all know they take a toll on both our mental and physical health. People employ various techniques to help them deal with life’s stressors, such as long walks, yoga or making time to meet up with friends or family. Whether or not you have time for these practices daily, it is important not to overlook diet, since nutrient deficiencies are often where problems begin.

Here are five nutrients to help regulate your moods and where to find them:

Folate, or Vitamin B9, assists in red blood cell production, cellular growth, cell division, protein metabolism and the prevention of neural tube defects. After being processed and converted into a form that can cross the blood brain barrier, it assists in the production of neurotransmitters, which helps alleviate anxiety and improve brain function. The natural form is much better than the synthetic folic acid that can be found in most supplements, and it can be found in leafy greens like spinach, asparagus, beans such as lentils, and fruits such as papaya. A cup of one of these foods will help take the edge off.

Tryptophan is an amino acid used in protein production, and a precursor to neurotransmitters melatonin and serotonin, responsible for good sleep and happiness, respectively. Tryptophan can be found in an array of sources such as chocolate, oats, dairy, red meat, poultry, peanuts, almonds, garbanzo beans, pumpkin and sunflower seeds and spirulina. There’s a variety of ways to work these into your diet to keep the body supplied with tryptophan.

Vitamin C
It’s been shown to help ward off stress, and vitamin C is found in healthy doses in many fruits such as citrus and all types of berries. Blueberries in particular have high levels of anthocyanin, which is a powerful antioxidant with amazing benefits such as improved cognition. If you have a sweet tooth, what better excuse do you need
to indulge with some of nature’s candy?

Lower levels of zinc have been associated with anxiety and depression, and as our bodies are unable to store it, it is important to consume a little of the foods that contain it every day. Pumpkin, sesame and watermelon seeds are high in zinc, as are dark chocolate, garlic, nuts, chickpeas and wheat germ. Did your eyes just skip right to chocolate and stay there?

This mood stabilizing mineral is found in beef, pork, poultry, seafood, leafy greens, beans, peas…you name it! So if you need to bulk up your mood, head to the kitchen and pump some iron!

By Christopher Matt