Mood and cognitive health are important topics and with an increase in mental health and cognitive related disorders, it is essential to support mood and brain function as much as possible. Situations such as low mood, stress and anxiety are a normal part of life and allow us to respond and develop to our surrounding environments, when short-lived and at a manageable level. However, in certain circumstances mood and anxiety disorders develop which can be debilitating and in some instances life changing. Therefore, optimising mental health and supporting mood is fundamental to wellbeing.
The brain and central nervous system are highly complex and adaptive, and therefore optimising function is not always straightforward. Low mood is associated with a disruption of normal neurotransmitter signalling within the brain. Additionally, dysfunction of certain hormones and particularly the stress response, can contribute to changes in normal cognitive function which lead to conditions including depression and anxiety. Supportive supplements for mood and anxiety therefore focus on providing nutrients which are the building blocks for neurotransmitters or hormones. It is also important to consider nutrients that contribute to optimal function of the brain and nervous system.
At Cytoplan, we offer a full spectrum of supplements to enhance mood both directly, and by helping to lessen the drivers of mental dysfunction.
As an initial baseline, it is important to ensure that optimum levels of nutrients are obtained, and the nutrition gap is bridged. Cytoplan’s food-based bioeffective multivitamin and mineral supplements are a great place to start for optimising mood, sleep and a healthy stress response.
Nutrients particularly important for brain health include omega-3 fatty acids (the brain is 60% fat) and DHA in particular, which contributes to normal cognitive function and hence plays a beneficial role in mood. Other important nutrients include those which contribute to the normal functioning of the nervous system, psychological function, energy-yielding metabolism and the reduction of homocysteine – which includes the B-complex vitamins. In addition, adequate antioxidants are important, for example, vitamins C, E, zinc, and selenium. An omega 3 fatty acid supplement and a targeted multivitamin and mineral is an excellent baseline for optimal mood.
Here at Cytoplan, we also supply nutrients that provide the foundations for specific neurotransmitters that are involved in mood and sleep. This includes 5HTP Plus. 5HTP is the precursor to the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin; it also provides magnesium and B6, which are essential cofactors for the production of serotonin.
Montmorency cherry is a natural source of the neurotransmitter melatonin, which is essential for the initiation of sleep. Therefore, our CytoNight, which provides Montmorency cherry as well as glycine, magnesium and hops can be supportive for healthy sleep.
Another neurotransmitter, GABA, is important for aiding relaxation and its production can be supported by nutrients such as l-theanine and adaptogenic herbs including Ashwagandha.
A healthy stress response is also important for normal mood. Therefore, natural supplements for stress and anxiety, which support adrenal function can be helpful. The adrenal glands utilise nutrients such as vitamin C, B5, B6, magnesium and zinc, in particular, and can also be supported by adaptogenic herbs including Ashwagandha and Rhodiola.
What are the best mood enhancing supplements?
It is firstly important to bridge the nutrition gap with a good quality food-based multivitamin and mineral, which provides optimal levels of nutrients in the most bioeffective form. Our CoQ10 Multi is an excellent choice. This is a multivitamin and mineral with good levels of B vitamins in the methylated (bioactive) form, which are essential for normal cognitive function and neurotransmitter production.
Low mood is associated with low serotonin and therefore providing the building blocks for serotonin production is important. 5HTP is the precursor to serotonin so providing this with cofactors for serotonin production (magnesium and B6) is supportive for mood. Therefore, Cytoplan’s 5HTP plus is a useful supplement for supporting mood.
Additionally, an omega-3 fatty acid can support both mood, focus and concentration. DHA in particular, supports normal cognitive function whilst EPA supports a normal inflammatory response. DHA is the predominant omega-3 in the brain.
Other supplements that can be useful are adaptogenic herbs which support both the stress response and cognitive function by stimulating nervous system function.
How can I repair the nervous system naturally to support positive mental health?
First of all, it is important to ensure optimal levels of all nutrients. Nutrients all work synergistically, and often if you are depleted in one you are likely to be depleted in others. It is a good idea to obtain a good quality multivitamin and mineral to ensure optimum intake of all nutrients. It should also be noted that in modern day society, due to multiple factors, it is very difficult to obtain optimal levels of nutrients from the diet alone.
However, important specific nutrients to consider are;
• Omega-3 fatty acids – particularly DHA which contributes to normal cognitive function as well as EPA which supports a normal inflammatory response. DHA is the predominant omega-3 in the brain
• B vitamins, especially methylfolate and B12, which are responsible for normal nervous system function and the production of neurotransmitters. They also aid the clearance of homocysteine; a waste product which can contribute to cognitive decline
• Vitamin D - a deficiency is associated with low mood
• Zinc is a major cofactor for enzymatic processes and is classed an antioxidant. Again, deficiency can be associated with low mood and a poor stress response
• Digestive support is also essential as there is strong communication between the gut and the brain, therefore probiotics are highly beneficial. Equally, 92% of the serotonin used by the body is produced in the digestive tract
Which supplements should I consider for depression?
A nutrient known as 5-HTP is the precursor to our feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin. 5-HTP can cross the blood-brain barrier which the brain can firstly convert to serotonin and then melatonin at night to aid sleep. Our 5-HTP Plus also contains vitamin B6 and magnesium, which are cofactors for the conversion of 5-HTP to serotonin.
There is also a strong connection between the gut and the brain, therefore supporting gut health can be effective for mood. It is often useful to consider a probiotic such as our Fos-A-Dophilus.
It is also worth considering an anti-inflammatory diet as inflammation can be a driver of low mood. Omega 3 fatty acids are useful as they support anti-inflammatory pathways and also contain DHA, which contributes to normal cognitive function. Curcumin and ginger are also useful for supporting anti-inflammatory pathways; however, they have a low bioavailability. Therefore, a liposomal curcumin is recommended as it can cross the blood-brain barrier intact. Our Cell-Active Curcumin Plus provides curcumin in this form.
There may be a need for additional vitamin D3, zinc, folate and B12 (in the active forms as methylfolate and methylcobalamin).
In general, it is recommended to use a bioeffective multivitamin and mineral (such as our CoQ10 Multi), with a good quality omega-3 supplement (such as our Omega Protect + CoQ10) and a probiotic (such as our Fos-A-Dophilus). For further support, consider our 5-HTP plus and Cell-Active Curcumin Plus.