Balanced nutrition is important no matter what your age or health focus. The proper vitamins, minerals, and nutrients are not only pertinent to physical health, but your mental state and mood, too. Low moods can have an equally negative impact on your health as high cholesterol and joint discomfort. But out of the long list of recommended daily nutrients, which ones benefit your mind the most? Thanks to a recent investigation on how diets influence moods, the answer to that question may be folate.
The Case for Folate
Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland analyzed the diet and health of 2,000 middle-aged or older men. Using food records and food frequency questionnaires to gauge diets, and after studying information about low moods from the National Hospital Discharge Register, the researchers followed up with participants for an average of 13–20 years.
The results of the analyzed studies and information revealed that healthy amounts of folate (or vitamin B9) were associated with a decreased risk in low moods and symptoms that are associated with lower emotional well-being. According to the university release, "A healthy diet characterized by vegetables, fruits, berries, whole-grains, poultry, fish, and low-fat cheese was associated with a lower prevalence of lower-mood symptoms and a smaller risk of low moods during the follow-up period." It also remarked that a diet high in sugars, processed meats, sugary drinks, and manufactured foods was associated with having a higher risk in lower-mood symptoms and issues.
You Can't Escape Your Greens
The health advantages of folate aren't exactly groundbreaking discoveries. Expecting mothers are advised to add more folate to their diets because healthful diets with adequate amounts of folate may reduce the risk of neural tube defects in unborn children. Folate is available in many of today's healthy foods like arugula, broccoli, spinach, sunflower seeds, asparagus, garbanzo and pinto beans, peanuts, and sprouts. It's easy to see how lacking a balanced diet can deprive you of this crucial vitamin, but other factors such as BPA contamination may also affect your ability to get the required amounts of folate you need. BPA, or bisphenol-A, is an organic compound found in clear plastic water bottles and microwavable containers that can seep into your food or drinks. Initial studies have shown that BPA may affect the brain and nervous system, which can have repercussions on your mood, memory, and concentration.
Sometimes Food Isn't Enough
Because sometimes it's just as hard to get all of your nutritious needs from meals, there are many supplements complete with the proper vitamins and minerals, including folate, which can help fill out your daily intake with what you need to live healthy and feel happy. In fact, in order for the body to utilize folate properly, it first needs to convert it into the active form known as 5-MTHF, so taking a 5-MTHF supplement may be even more beneficial. Positive moods can give you greater motivation to exercise, socialize, and revolutionize your way of life. If your mood is in a funk, start by improving the quality of your diet to improve your quality of life.