The heart of winter is upon us. Christmas and New Years are long past. Between the cold, the lack of sunshine and monotone colors, it is not unusual to feel the “Winter Blues” descend. For those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), this is a very trying time. But even those without SAD can suffer from depression and a lack of energy during the winter. Here are five dietary supplements to lift your spirits and get you through to Spring.
Rhodiola rosea is a rare herb that grows in the mountainous regions of Europe and Asia. It is known by many names including rose root, king’s crown, golden root and Arctic root. It has long been used to boost energy and improve athletic performance. Recently, it has been found to fight depression and improve overall brain function. Rhodiola rosea boosts the function of serotonin and dopamine within the brain. This leads to better focus and memory, increased sensitivity to pleasurable experiences, and a general improvement in mood.
It may seem strange to highlight the mood boosting power of an amino acid blamed for sleepiness at Thanksgiving. However, L-Tryptophan, or simply Tryptophan, stimulates the activity of serotonin in the intestines, driving more of this mood enhancing neurotransmitter to the brain. Numerous studies highlight this benefit of Tryptophan, while diagnosing low levels of Tryptophan as a leading cause of depression. For this reason, Tryptophan as a dietary supplement, is of great benefit not only in Winter, but year-round.
Beetroot powder is derived from the roots of the beet tuber. Beets are not only loaded with nutrients and antioxidants, they support liver function by helping to eliminate toxins. One of the many positive effects caused by this is a lift to mood. Beetroot also serves as a natural antidepressant because of its high magnesium and Tryptophan content, both of which boost levels of serotonin.
Astralagus has long been used in Chinese medicine to boost the immune system and fight disease. Recent studies have found that these benefits are just the tip of the iceberg. Astralagus has been found to improve blood circulation leading to a reduction in fatigue. It also improves blood circulation in the brain helping to improve memory, mood and cognitive function.
The mineral zinc has considerable antidepressive qualities. It has been shown to increase the function of serotonin in the brain and is often prescribed for patients with depressive disorders. The human body does not produce zinc and it is easy to develop a zinc deficiency if one eats processed foods or follows a strict vegetarian or vegan diet. For many, it is necessary to use dietary supplements just to maintain the minimum levels of zinc needed to maintain optimal health. Additionally, zinc provides considerable immune system support so you can fight off winter colds and the flu. Staying healthy is, perhaps, the best way to fight off the Winter Blues.