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Improve Your Mood With Good Nutrition

Updated on April 9, 2018

According to the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, "A deficiency of any single nutrient can alter brain function and lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders."

Nutrition Effects Your Mood

In order to understand how food can put us in a Good Mood we have to understand the basics of how our bodies produce brain chemicals from a combination of nutrients we consume. Deficiency of some Amino Acids, Endorphins and certain Vitamins and Minerals can alter brain function and lead to depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. Nutritional deficiencies can have a profound influence on the brain and mood.

As they say "no man is an island". This holds true for Amino Acids, Vitamins, Minerals and Antioxidants. All nutrients require other nutrients for activation or function.

Amino Acids

Amino Acids serve as building blocks of proteins. They are necessary to nearly every bodily function.

There are twenty Amino Acids. Some of them are stored in the body and others can only be obtained by the food we consume. Some of the Amino Acids are derived from others. They all play an important role in optimum health.

There are nine Essential Amino Acids. They are not really more important than the other Amino Acids. They are Essential because they can only be created with certain nutrients in the food we ingest. Because the body does not store excess Amino Acids for later use they must be consumed on a daily basis.

There are three Essential Amino Acids that directly effect our mood.

Sources of Tryptophan

  • Meats
  • Barley
  • Brown Rice
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Fish (Tuna, Crab and Shellfish)
  • Milk
  • Peanuts
  • Soybeans


  • Tryptophan is an Essential Amino Acid that is a precursor of Serotonin.
  • Most of our 40 million brain cells are influenced by Serotonin
  • Serotonin is a chemical that helps relay signals from one part of the brain to another
  • Serotonin effects mood, appetite, memory, learning, appetite, sexual function and desire
  • 5-HTP is the intermediate step between Tryptophan and Serotonin. 5-HTP causes an increase in levels of endorphin and other neurotransmitters that are often decreased in cases of depression.

Sources of Phenyalinine

  • Avocados
  • Almonds
  • Bananas
  • Cheese, Cottage Cheese
  • Lima Beans
  • Peanuts
  • Pickled Herring
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Sesame Seeds


Phenylalanine is an Essential Amino Acid that is needed to make, among other things, brain chemicals such as Norepinephrine and Dopamine. The body turns Phenylalanine into another Amino Acid called Tyrosine. Tyrosine is often referred to as the "anti-depressant " Amino Acid. It acts to help the body adapt to and cope with psychological and physical stress as it is the precursor to two of the stress related hormones Norepinephrine and Epinephrine.

  • Norepinephrine effects mood
  • Dopamine is a brain chemical that helps to control the reward and pleasure center, motivation and emotions
  • A low level of Phenylanine coupled with decreased levels of Tyrosine can cause depression, a lack of sleep and energy, chronic fatigue syndrome, decreased alertness and memory problems, low sex drive and stress.

Sources of Methionine

  • Beans
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Garlic
  • Lentils
  • Meat
  • Milk
  • Onions


Methionine is an Essential Amino Acid that plays several important roles in metabolism.

  • SAMe, which is essential for normal brain function, is a biproduct of the Amino Acid Methionine.
  • SAMe plays a role in the chemical reaction involving the neurotransmitters Serotonin, Melatonin and Dopamine
  • Methionine also acts as a powerful antioxidant to combat free radicals in the body.
  • Methionine may be useful in the management of depression, arthritis pain, memory problems,

Chocolate and Chili Peppers Can Be Uplifting!
Chocolate and Chili Peppers Can Be Uplifting! | Source

Release Your Endorphins!

Chocolate: The release of endorphins when consuming chocolate can explain the comforting feelings that result when one indulges their craving for this luscious treat. In addition to releasing Endorphins, Chocolate contains flavonoids that have anitoxidant properties.

Chili Peppers, can also lead to enhanced secretion of endorphins. The spicier the pepper, the more endorphins are secreted. Have spicy ethnic foods like Tex-Mex, Mexican, Cajun, Indian, Szechuan and Thai. An additional benefit of Chili Peppers is that they contain Vitamins A and C and Calcium.


Endorphins are protein molecules. These "uplifting" chemicals are naturally produced by the body. The level of Endorphins can be increased by consuming a combination of the nutrients that cause their release.

  • Endorphins are produced in the brain and other parts of the body
  • They work with sedative receptors to help control pain, stress, symptoms of eating disorders and cravings for addictive substances
  • They enhance the immune system and postpone the aging process.
  • They create Euphoria especially noted with displays of affection and while Making Love
  • The "Natural High" is achieved through prolonged exercise and periods of extreme stress when levels of Endorphins are increased.
  • Low Endorphin levels can be caused by certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies


  • B Complex Vitamins (Thiamine,Niacin, Pantothemic Acid, Pyridoxine, Folate/Folic Acid) are essential to mental and emotional well being. They aid in the processing of Amino Acids which are needed to manufacture serotonin, melatonin and dopamine. Folic Acid is necessary for the production of SAMe. Pyridoxine (B6) is needed for the conversion of Tryptophan to Serotonin. Deficiencies are linked to depression and anxiety. Sources: Green ,Leafy Vegetables, Fruits, Whole Grains, Cereals, Fish, Liver, Nuts, Eggs, Meat, Poultry, Milk, Beans.
  • Vitamins C assists the body in the production of Serotonin. It has antioxidant properties that help to support a healthy immune system by destroying free radicals and decreasing the risk of depression and associated mood swings. Sources: Citrus fruit, Strawberries, Peppers, Broccoli
  • Vitamin D deficiency results in increased anxiety and altered emotional behavior and is associated with depression and poor mood. Sources: Salmon, Tuna, Fortified Dairy Products and Cereals
  • Vitamin E is a powerful antioxident. Sources: Vegetable Oils, Margarine, Butter, Wheat Germ, Avocados, Green, Leafy Vegetables,


Organic Farming

Through modern farming practices our soil is not as rich in Minerals and Vitamins as it used to be. Biodynamic or Organic Farming produces healthier fruits and vegetables. We get most of our Minerals and Vitamins from Plant and Animal Sources. Because they are so important to our well being, it makes sense to shop "Organic".


There are many Minerals that help to relieve anxiety and prevent deficiencies that directly cause stress and depression. Some of these are:

  • Calcium is required for proper metabolism of neurotransmitters responsible for mood and energy. Sources: Milk, Yogurt, Cheese, Chinese Cabbage, Kale, Broccoli, Tofu, Fortified Cereals and Juices
  • Chromium helps prevent mood swings and depression by regulating blood glucose. Sources: Apples, Beef, Calf Liver, Brewer's Yeast, Cheese, Chicken, Corn, Eggs, Molasses, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, Whole Grain Products
  • Iron is essential in the synthesis of Dopamine, Norepinephrine and Serotonin. A deficiency can lead to depression, exhaustion and weakness. Sources: Beef, Tuna, Nuts, Fortified Cereals.
  • Magnesium is essential for the transmission of nerve impulses and plays a role in depression and ADD. Sources: Seeds, Nuts, Dairy Products, Apples
  • Manganese is needed for proper use of B Complex Vitamins and Vitamin C. It also plays a role in Amino Acid formation. Deficiency results in low levels of Serotonin and Epinephrine leading to depression and anxiety. Sources: Blue/Blackberries, Dried Beans, Bran, Carrots, Chestnuts, Hazelnuts, Oatmeal, Peas, Peanuts, Pecans, Spinach, Seaweed, Tea, Whole Grain Product
  • Selenium helps prevent anxiety, confusion and depression. Sources: Bran, Broccoli, Cabbage, Chicken, Milk, Mushrooms, Oatmeal, Onions, Seafood, Tuna, Whole Grain Products
  • Zinc cannot function without Vitamin E and Vitamin E needs Selenium. Zinc is important for proper functioning of the nervous system and maintaining mental balance. It helps prevent depression, anxiety and lethargy. Sources: Oysters, Wheat Germ, Sesame Seeds, Pumpkin and Squash Seeds, Dark Chocolate, Peanuts, Beef´╗┐

Have a Glass of Red Wine!
Have a Glass of Red Wine! | Source


Your body constantly reacts with oxygen as you breathe and your cells produce energy. When oxygen is metabolized it creates Free Radicals which pull electrons from other molecules. Physiological or Oxidative Stress leads to the accumulation of these free radicals which cause cell damage and are responsible for many disease processes. This oxidation process is accelerated by mental stress and exposure to various toxins.

Antioxidants help to neutralize Free Radicals. Our body doesn't produce enough Antioxidants so look to the sources of Vitamins C and E and Minerals Selenium, Zinc and Manganese which are nutritients that have antioxidant properties.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids are powerful antioxidants that help to alleviate stress and depression. Sources: oily fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines, as well as flax seeds and walnuts

Supplement your diet with colorful fruits and vegetables. The more vibrant the color the more antioxidants they have!!


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    • pedrn44 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Greenfield, Wisconsin

      Hi tillsontitan! Thanks so much for the most encouraging comment, your vote and sharing:) Along with all the other info I gathered I knew I had to mention the benefits of chocolate!!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      8 years ago from New York

      So much information! You've really packed it into this hub, lucky for us. You really know your stuff and we need to - especially when it concerns chocolate ;) This is a great hub to help us learn how to eat properly by outlining what's important and why. Voted up, useful, interesting and SHARED.

    • pedrn44 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Greenfield, Wisconsin

      Good to see you rasta. Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment:)

    • pedrn44 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Greenfield, Wisconsin

      Hi kelley. Thanks for such a nice comment, the vote and sharing. I appreciate it. I didn't know about the peppers either. Now I know why I add hot giardinierra (sp?)to my salads and feel so good!!

    • pedrn44 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Greenfield, Wisconsin

      Hi Born2care. So glad you stopped by and liked my hub.Thanks for such an encouraging comment, the vote and sharing:) I need to know more about organic farming. It wasn't until I was researching nutrients that I discovered the benefits. I'm afraid what I'll discover on the labels I read..but I'll be brave and take your suggestion.

    • pedrn44 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Greenfield, Wisconsin

      Thanks, Sinea. The discoveries we make about the way nutrition effects us can be very enlightening. So glad you stopped by and I appreciate the vote!

    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 

      8 years ago from Jamaica

      I love it, well researched rich content.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great hub! I love eating most of these things, especially berries and chocolate! I didn't know chili peppers act as endorphins? Voted Up and Shared!

    • Born2care2001 profile image

      Rev Bruce S Noll HMN 

      8 years ago from Asheville NC

      Hi pedrn44,

      Super job! This hubs getting bookmarked for storage for it's topic, presentation and timeliness. Every one of us needs to know this whether we want to or not! LOL

      Thank you so much for your inclusion of organic farming. I sincerely that this hub will be a beginning in the re-education of America about our nutritional requirements, not to mention the FEEL GOOD stuff!

      Want an eye opener everyone? Just start reading the labels on your food and pharma and do a little research. You'll be amazed and saddened at what you are being sold!

      Voted Up and shared with everyone I know!!!

    • Sinea Pies profile image

      Sinea Pies 

      8 years ago from Northeastern United States

      Great hub. I need to spend some more time taking this all in. Now I understand why beef gives me new energy...I must need the iron! Voted up and useful.

    • pedrn44 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Greenfield, Wisconsin

      Lol, Sunshine! Chocolate is right up there with the feel good foods. Thanks for stopping, so nice to see you:)

    • pedrn44 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Greenfield, Wisconsin

      Thanks, Alecia. It's always nice to see you. I appreciate your comment.The more I read the more I see how good nutrition can make a world of difference! That jingle also ran through my head during my research. I can't remember the last time I was at Arby's but that jingle does have a way of sticking with you. lol.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      8 years ago from Orlando, FL

      What a huge relief to see chocolate on the list. Phew. Of course all the other important and vitals minerals and vitamins are crucial also!:)

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 

      8 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I liked the information you provided in this hub, I just wish I didn't hear that jingle for Arby's good mood food in my head. I'm glad to know food can help change your attitude or just make your day go better. I think this is always good for the long haul of the workday or days when it' shard to get through. Great hub!

    • pedrn44 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Greenfield, Wisconsin

      Hi jamila. So nice to see you:) Methionone is a precursor to SAMe which is a great supplement for joint health among other things. Through the metabolism of Tryptophan, endorphins, which are natural pain relievers are increased. I have read that the "runner's high" which is due to the release of endorphins can and does make people keep going through the pain and that can cause further damage to the joints. So, maybe have some chocolate and chili peppers instead of excessive exercise to release those endorphins:)

    • pedrn44 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Greenfield, Wisconsin

      Thanks so much for the encouraging and very nice comment, eye say! I'm glad you found this useful.

    • jamila sahar profile image

      jamila sahar 

      8 years ago

      excellent hub onc again ! very useful information, do you know of which amino is beneficial for rebuilding cartilage ? or helping with joing pain as well ? thank you so much for sharing this valuable information

    • eye say profile image

      eye say 

      8 years ago from Canada

      fabulous information, really useful and a brilliantly written hub! bookmarking for reference, voting up and sharing, so useful I appreciate your efforts!

    • pedrn44 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Greenfield, Wisconsin

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment, Dancilla:) I'm glad you liked it.

    • Dancilla profile image


      8 years ago from El Paso

      This is a very informative hub. It was really good to read.

    • profile image

      8 years ago

      YW. Yes, well I'm sure it all makes a difference.

    • pedrn44 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Greenfield, Wisconsin

      Hi, f. Yes the nutrients we take in are important for not only our overall health but mental health, too. It all works together. Thanks for stopping by:)

    • profile image

      8 years ago

      I'm sure food must have something to do with moods. Not all the time but sometimes, definitely. Interesting hub; voted up.

    • pedrn44 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Greenfield, Wisconsin

      Thanks Judi Bee:) I appreciate you stopping by,leaving such an encouraging comment and voting up, etc.

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judi Brown 

      8 years ago from UK

      This is a great hub, very informative and useful. Bookmarked, voted up etc.

    • pedrn44 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Greenfield, Wisconsin

      Hi Lisa! It's great that Tuna and Dairy products worked for boosting your mood and the confirmation that comes from a mental health hospital makes it that more convincing. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could achieve optimal health just by eating the right foods? Banana yogurt sounds yummy! Now I have a taste for it too! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a nice comment.

    • pedrn44 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Greenfield, Wisconsin

      Hi teacherjoe! The more I research the more sense it makes to me. Not everyone can or wants to avoid medication but if it's possible to improve your mental health with a proper diet it sounds like the best option for overall health. Thanks for stopping by and commenting:)

    • Lisa HW profile image

      Lisa HW 

      8 years ago from Massachusetts

      I've always (for a long time anyway) used tuna salad and/or dairy products as my mood booster. I've since learned that McLean Hospital (a mental-health hospital) in Belmont MA found that tuna can be as effective as anti-depressants sometimes. I've always just thought it was the fat content in them. Seeing them in that same block you have above makes sense to me. For the last several months I've been craving banana yogurt. Seeing the connection to relieving stress here makes that craving make sense too.

    • teacherjoe52 profile image


      8 years ago

      Very informative.

      Just goes to prave:the naturla diet is the best diet.


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