So it’s part two of our mood boosting series, and this time we’re going to talk supplements. Yes you can get all of the vitamins you need eating a well-rounded diet with lots of variety and in the right combinations. Do all of us do that? Or even know how? Not quite. The good news is that if you are eating a healthy, balanced diet, there is absolutely nothing wrong with supplementing with some vitamins. Not only is it okay, it is oftentimes ESSENTIAL. And even if you have all the vitamins you need, and still are not feeling 100% there are some great supplemental herbs out there that could help.

There are some great multivitamins out there, but if you’re feeling especially anxious or depressed there are some things you can focus on:

1. B12 – This is ESPECIALLY important for my vegetarians out there. B12 is only found naturally in animal products, so if you aren’t getting enough it could mean serious problems for your psyche. Low B levels have been linked to memory loss, mood changes and depression. The average adult needs 2.3 micrograms daily.

2. Gotu Kola – helps circulation to the brain and helps break down scar tissue, while balancing the nervous system. It contains chemicals called triterpenoids which have been used to calm anxiety. There are also claims that it has many other health benefits, such as healing wounds and scars, treating varicose veins, and reducing insomnia.

3. St. John’s Wort – an herb that has been taken for many years for “nervous disorders” and has anti-inflammatory properties. Medical professionals don’t know exactly how it works, but it has been found in some studies to perform much like the RSSIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) usually prescribed for depression and anxiety. A word of caution on this one — DO NOT take it with prescribed anti-depressants, and make sure it does not interfere with other medicines you may be taking. Ladies, it is well known for decreasing the effectiveness of birth control.

4. Melatonin – this is a naturally occurring chemical in the brain and is responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycles of the body, and balancing your mood. Lack of quality sleep will quickly deteriorate your brain’s ability to focus and regulate serotonin. If you feel you aren’t sleeping well, or have a hard time falling asleep, take 2-5 mg of melatonin 30 minutes before bed.

5. Vitamin D – This applies to not only people struggling with stress and other mood disorders, but a majority of the U.S. population. There are studies that claim 3/4 of U.S. teens and adults do not have enough of this vitamin. Vitamin D occurs naturally in some animal products, like fish and eggs yolks, and is also produced as the skin reacts to sun exposure. There are several different parts of the brain with Vitamin D receptors and it is instrumental in various brain processes, making it a likely candidate for contributing to depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder. The recommended dose is 600 IU/day, unless you are deficient in which case your doctor will usually order up to 1000 IU/day. I found out that I was significantly deficient a few months ago in a routine blood test.

Here’s a look at my current lineup:

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Now I want to make something very clear before I leave you all to your vitamin quests. I take mood disorders very seriously. Yes I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression, but so have many of my family members and my dearest friends. I would NEVER tell them to stop taking their medications in favor of these approaches unless they didn’t have severe symptoms and were feeling generally functional. Sometimes you’re not ready to jump off the conventional medicine bandwagon and I 100% encourage you to follow your intuition.

If you try any of these, let me know if they help!

Until next time,

♄ Stephanie