Published: Sep 15, 2014
Author: BioCeuticals - Editor
Busy lifestyles, poor sleep quality, nutritional deficiencies and even genetics have been pointed to as some of the potential causes of stress and low mood. Regardless of the cause, there are often times in our lives where we need some extra support.
Our brains are amazing machines. By producing and balancing levels of the neurotransmitters – or brain chemicals – serotonin and dopamine, our brains keep our moods stable and our outlooks positive.
Many nutrients help to make these neurotransmitters, but three significant ones for mood are SAMe, vitamin B9 and vitamin B12.
S-adenosylmethionine or ademetionine (SAMe) is a naturally occurring substance in the body which helps maintain healthy mood.1 It has many roles, but one of the most important is in the production of serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline.1-3 These neurotransmitters are responsible for our feelings of happiness, wellbeing, attention and reward. Keeping these neurotransmitters in check is essential for our emotional welfare.
In numerous studies, patients with low mood were found to have lower than normal levels of SAMe. In fact, supplementation with SAMe led to improved levels of serotonin and dopamine and had beneficial effects on maintaining normal mood.3-6
SAMe also supports a healthy liver and assists in the production of glutathione,1,3,7 a potent antioxidant. It has been shown to help with some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia including pain, fatigue and, of course, mood swings.8,9 It has been shown to assist in reducing inflammation associated with arthritis and help improve joint mobility.1,3,10
Folate and vitamin B12
Folate (vitamin B9) and cobalamin (vitamin B12) are essential for the normal development and function of the central nervous system. They support the effectiveness of SAMe and are required for its production and transport. Folate, vitamin B12 and SAMe show clinical evidence in relation to supporting mood and brain function.11
Other activities of vitamins B12 and folic acid are to help maintain healthy memory, healthy blood (including red blood cell production) and help support individuals who have B12 and folate deficiency. B12 is especially important for the elderly and those on a vegetarian diet as they are at a higher risk of B12 deficiency.
It’s important to consider the form of nutrients so that you receive the most benefit from your supplementation. Folinic acid is the active form of folate, and is more efficiently metabolised and utilised.
SAMe together with activated B9 and B12 may be just what you need to help maintain your healthy mood. It is the combination of these nutrients which renders it more effective than if they stood alone.
Also effective in mood support is the use of herbal medicines such as Crocus sativus (saffron), Hypericum perforatum (St John’s wort), Albizia julibrissin (mimosa) and Rhodiola rosea (rhodiola).
Saffron (Crocus sativus)
Saffron has been used in traditional Persian medicine for supporting healthy mood balance and has emerged as a leading herb in improving symptoms of anxiety. Clinical trials show 30mg of saffron extract daily provided positive effects on mood and anxiety symptoms.12-15 A recent statistical review of five clinical trials also revealed saffron’s benefits on mood.16
Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)
Rhodiola has traditionally been used in European, Asian and Russian medicine to support healthy mood balance. Modernly, it has been shown to to improve mental performance and cognitive processes and reduce stress-related fatigue.17,18
Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin)
Mimosa is known in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as the “happiness herb” and is used by TCM practitioners to calm the spirit, support healthy mood and memory, and reduce irritability, sleeplessness and stress. The happiness herb focuses the mind and makes people happy without care. Long-term consumption will lighten the body, brighten the eyes and allow people to achieve their desires.19
St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum)
St John’s wort is one of the most scientifically validated herbal medicines for anxiety and mood support.1,13,20,21 Its excellent safety profile and evidence for efficacy solidify its value in the relief of anxiety symptoms.
Symptoms of low mood
If you have experienced the following signs or symptoms for two weeks or more, talk to your healthcare practitioner about which nutritional and lifestyle therapies may help.
- Lowered self-esteem
- Change in sleep patterns (insomnia or broken sleep)
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Less able to control emotions such as pessimism, anger, guilt, irritability and anxiety
- Reduced capacity to experience pleasure
- Reduced pain tolerance
- Changed sex drive (reduced or absent)
- Poor concentration and memory
- Reduced motivation / things seem meaningless
- Lowered exercise levels
Please contact your GP immediately if these symptoms include suicidal thoughts or actions.
Speak to your healthcare practitioner for more information about supplementation. Make sure to always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist, see your healthcare practitioner.
To find a healthcare practitioner in your local area, visit our Find A Practitioner service!