It’s safe to say that depression isn’t a condition people want to have. It can be debilitating, exhausting, and prevent you from doing your daily tasks – and it’s not something that plain positive thinking can fix. But did you know that there have been several links made between nutrition and depression?

As it turns out, being deficient in certain vitamins, minerals, and sources of nutrition can actually lead to a higher risk of developing depression. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need, especially as you age. Here are some deficiencies that might lead to depression.

“You can trace every sickness, every disease and every ailment to a mineral deficiency.” – Linus Pauling

Here Are 10 Deficiencies That Can Cause Depression

1. B Vitamins

These vitamins are fantastic for nail, hair, and skin health and can even reduce the risk of developing a stroke. But that’s not all they’re good for! B vitamins of all sorts have been noted for having obvious effects on mental health. Pay extra attention to vitamins B6, B9 (folate), and B12, which are some of the most important complex B vitamins. You can get B vitamins from poultry, seafood (like fish, shellfish, crab, mussels, and clams), leafy greens, red meat, milk, eggs, whole grains, bananas, broccoli, avocado, cauliflower, asparagus, and strawberries.

2. Zinc

Zinc is arguably one of the most crucial minerals for the body. It is used the most by enzymes, is responsible for good digestion, can boost the immune system, and is even well-known for warding off allergies. It helps lower inflammation and helps individuals balance their emotional state. Plenty of evidence links depression to a deficiency in zinc. You can get zinc from beef (mainly grass-fed), poultry, mushrooms, oysters, spinach, pumpkin seeds, cashews, dark chocolate, and raisins.

3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

The body cannot make fatty acids naturally, so we must consume them. They’re great for reducing inflammation, boosting memory, and improving mood, and they’re well-known supplements often taken by those with depressive disorders. Without a sufficiency of these acids, trans fat can make its way into the body’s neural system, leading to potential mind troubles and irritability due to brain inflammation. You can get omega-3 fatty acids from coldwater fish (like tuna, black cod, salmon, and halibut), flaxseed and flaxseed oil, egg yolk, and walnuts.

4. Magnesium

Magnesium, like zinc, is a very, very essential mineral in daily bodily processes, taking part in more than 600 of our metabolic functions. Aside from that, it provides an incredible antidote to high stress levels, helping you stay more relaxed throughout the day. Low levels of this mineral can significantly contribute to the development of neuropsychiatric issues. This connection is so strong that individuals with depression actually tend to have lower magnesium levels. You can get magnesium from seaweed and kelp, peanut butter, avocado, spinach, black beans, whole grain bread, and cashews.

5. Vitamin D

Only recently, vitamin D deficiencies have discovered to be even more dangerous than originally believed, with links to not only depression, but dementia as well. Science has revealed that the lower the amounts of vitamin D in the body, the more severe the symptoms of depression. You can get vitamin D from beef liver, fatty fish (like salmon, mackerel, and tuna), egg yolk, cod liver oil, and cheese. Going outside to spend around half an hour in the sunlight twice or thrice a week can also prevent a deficiency from occurring.

6. Selenium

Selenium is an important trace mineral used in the production of thyroid hormones. It helps provide antioxidants to the body while protecting from all sorts of toxins. It also aids in helping to keep moods positive. Studies have revealed links between depression and deficiencies in selenium. You can get selenium from Brazil nuts, pastured chicken, pastured eggs, meat (mainly grass-fed), seafood (mainly wild-caught), bivalves (like clams and oysters), organic vegetables, organic fruits, whole grains, seeds, and nuts.

7. Iron

Not only does a deficiency in this mineral lead to an increased risk for potentially developing depression, but it can also greatly increase its severity. Maintaining a high amount of iron consumption can actually drastically reduce the chances of developing this psychological condition. What is more, it can improve depression symptoms by 25%. You can get iron from beef liver, chicken liver, duck, shellfish, mussels, and blackstrap molasses. You can also find this mineral in sardines, eggs, nuts (especially cashews and pistachios), spirulina, beans, spinach, raisins, and dark chocolate.

8. Iodine

Iodine is crucial to healthy production of thyroid hormones, in a similar way to selenium. All bodily cells require iodine for healthy metabolism regulation. A deficiency in this component can greatly slow down a large number of organs in the body. This can lead to memory issues, lack of focus, and mood problems. You can find iodine in sea vegetables (like dulse, kelp, nori, and hijiki), egg yolk, crude cheese, saltwater fish, and salt (iodine-improved).


9. Manganese

Manganese is a trace mineral that performs cofactor duties, essentially providing aid to a large number of enzymes that carry out a variety of different bodily functions. Studies have found that those with depression often have very low levels of enzymes that are manganese-dependent and that those who consume more of this mineral are less likely to develop symptoms of depression.

You can get manganese from leafy green vegetables, nuts (especially macadamias and hazelnuts), fruits, and chocolate. Do note that you should not take large amounts of manganese, as an overdose can cause neurodegenerative disorders.

10. Inositol

This molecule is naturally-occurring and therefore present in most animals and plants. In fact, in our brains, we have very high levels of this component, which is largely responsible for neurotransmitter creation. While the body can produce this molecule from glucose, those with depression have been found to have very low levels of this component inside their brains, and supplementation with inositol has been proven to boost mood and relieve symptoms of depression. You can get inositol from fruits, with the best options being oranges and cantaloupe.

Final thoughts

Depression isn’t something to joke about. It’s a very difficult issue to deal with, but what you eat can make a difference. This knowledge puts the power in your hands. By avoiding these nutrient deficiencies, you’ll be able to help keep your body healthy, therefore keeping your mind and brain healthy, too.