Looking to Enhance Your Mood? What Supplements May Help, According to Science

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    Mood problems can have big consequences for our quality of life. Can vitamins help improve our moods? Read on to learn more.

    Can over-the-counter supplements really help with mood support?

    If you’re experiencing unexplained or troubling changes in your mood, know you’re not alone. Mood problems affect millions of Americans every year, and their causes are complex. Sometimes mood changes have to do with hormonal changes, occasional lack of sleep, or circumstantial stress. In such cases, it’s possible that over-the-counter vitamins and other supplements can help improve your situation. Such supplements can help relieve occasional stress, support a healthy nervous system, help you achieve hormonal balance, and contribute to improved sleep. Some supplements can even improve your gut health, which has had a surprisingly significant impact on your overall physical and emotional wellbeing.

    If your mood changes remain unexplained and persistent, you should talk to a healthcare provider.

    Fish oil and mood

    Fish oil supplements are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have been investigated for their potential benefits for mood – and the results have been promising.

    Because omega-3 fatty acids travel with ease through the brain cell membrane, they are able to interact with brain molecules related to mood. In this study, higher omega-3 content was associated with greater gray matter volume in the limbic system, thus demonstrating how omega-3s may play an important role in memory, mood, and affect.

    Care/of’s fish oil supplement contains EPA and DHA and is sourced from wild Alaskan salmon.

    Probiotics and mood

    Probiotics are live bacteria that are good for your gut health. People typically take probiotic supplements when they want to improve gut health and perhaps address some gastrointestinal problems. But it turns out that probiotics can also have an impact on people’s moods. To understand why, we have to look at the gut/mind connection.

    The gut/mind connection

    At some point in your life, you’ve probably gotten this advice: “Go with your gut.” It turns out there’s some science behind this guidance.

    Your central nervous system communicates with your gut environment, and vice versa. This communication network is known as “the gut-brain axis.” The brain, therefore, can influence intestinal activities, and the gut can influence mood. Some have even called the gut a “second brain,” because it produces many of the same neurotransmitters that the brain does, including serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid, all of which play a key role in mood regulation. Indeed, it’s estimated that 90% of serotonin – a hormone sometimes called the “happy hormone” for its impact on mood – is created in the digestive tract.

    Studies have shown that probiotics can help enhance this line of communication while also generally supporting the health of the gut microbiome. If you’re interested in trying probiotics, you might want to check out Care/of’s Probiotic Blend, which has been shown to help naturally regulate the digestive system.

    B-Vitamins and mood

    B-vitamins support the health of the nervous system, and serve as a cofactor for the production of neurotransmitters, which affect mood. One study showed that supplementation of B-complex with vitamin C improved mood in healthy males who originally reported feeling work related stress and fatigue. Care/of’s B-complex vitamins support the nervous system and promote energy metabolism.

    Adaptogens and mood

    Adaptogens are a group of plants and herbs whose active ingredients can help the body respond to stress. They help increase your tolerance and resilience during those trying times, which may be why they’ve been used for thousands of years.

    Some of the most popular adaptogen supplements include American ginseng, ashwagandha, and rhodiola.

    Ashwagandha has been shown to support cognitive function in a number of ways. Studies have shown that it helps promote better moods and more all-around mental balance by managing occasional stress. It can also help improve people’s sleep quality, which has the added benefit of improving people’s moods. One study found that taking 500-600 mg per day for one month improved subjects’ mental balance considerably. Another study found that ashwagandha helped reduce stress-related eating. There’s a reason why Care/of calls its ashwagandha “The Chill Pill.”

    American ginseng also supports cognitive function, including by enhancing people’s working memory. Like ashwagandha, it can also help relieve occasional stress and tension.

    Rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb that’s become increasingly popular over the years. Like ashwagandha and American ginseng, it supports a healthy response to occasional stress. It also supports better moods. A study that looked at 60 subjects experiencing stress-related fatigue found that rhodiola supplementation ended up reducing cortisol levels, a clear sign of reduced stress. (Cortisol is sometimes called “the stress hormone.”) Care/of’s rhodiola is sourced from the Altai Mountains of Siberia and Russia.

    Sometimes people like to take ashwagandha and rhodiola together. The research suggests that doing so has a synergistic effect however combining adaptogens can be overstimulating for some. As a result it is best practice to start off with one adaptogen at a time.

    If your mood problems have to do with hormonal imbalances caused by PMS, you can try shatavari, an adaptogen that can manage PMS and support healthy hormones.

    What are some other natural mood enhancers?

    While supplements can be helpful for improving your mood, there are also natural steps you can take.

    Prayer and meditation, for example, have been shown to help improve mindfulness and emotional processing.

    You also can’t overstate the importance of getting some exercise. You can also try out yoga, tai chi, and other physical activities, all of which have been shown to boost mood.

    Studies have consistently found a relationship between mood and sleep quality. Getting to bed at a reasonable hour and sleeping through the night can work wonders for your mood.

    Proper nutrition is also important for your overall well-being, both mental and physical. Be sure to get a nutrient-rich, varied diet. It’s important to get some proteins in your diet, too, since the amino acids from proteins are used by your body for making hormones and neurotransmitters.

    And, lastly, you would do well to have some social support in your life – a major predictor of happiness and well-being. If you have a chance to spend time with friends, do so. The TV will always be there when you get home.

    When to talk to your doctor

    You should talk to your doctor if your mood changes persist and are causing difficulties in your life. A doctor can help you determine any underlying problems. You may also want to seek the support of a mental health professional, such as a therapist or a psychiatrist.

    You should also talk to your doctor before adding any new supplements to your routine.

    Key takeaways

    Many people experience mood problems from time to time associated with temporary stress or tension, including millions of Americans each year. If these problems are related to hormonal changes or changing circumstances, certain vitamin supplements can help the body achieve balance and enhance one’s mood. Adaptogens, in particular, are specifically used to help the body respond to occasional stress. However, supplements are no substitute for healthy lifestyle adjustments, including improvements in sleep, diet, social connection, mindfulness, and exercise. You should talk to your doctor if your mood problems persist.

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    Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS
    Medical Content Manager
    Dr. Montrond-Correia is a licensed naturopathic physician and a certified nutrition specialist (CNS). She holds degrees from University of Bridgeport, Georgetown University, and University of Saint Joseph, and supplemented her education with internships in the health and wellness space. She's focused on research, herbal medicine, nutrigenomics, and integrative and functional medicine. She makes time for exercise, artistic activities, and enjoying delicious food.
    Our Editorial Staff
    Freelance Contributor
    The Care/of Editorial Team is made up of writers, experts, and health enthusiasts, all dedicated to giving you the information you need today. Our team is here to answer your biggest wellness questions, read the studies for you, and introduce you to your new favorite product, staying up to date on the latest research, trends, and science. Each article is written by one of our experts, reviewed both for editorial standards by an editor and medical standards by one of our naturopathic doctors, and updated regularly as new information becomes available.