EPA - This Omega 3 fatty acid, found abundantly in fish oil, tops my list of supplements capable of affecting the way we respond to stress, anxiety and depression
I have been singing the praises of this particular supplement to clients for a couple of years now, and have seen first hand the difference it can make in the lives of those who regularly take it. Indeed, there is a growing body of evidence that pure EPA helps improve mental functioning, stabilise mood and helps us to deal more effectively with stress and anxiety.
Supplementing with pure EPA has proven helpful not only for people suffering from stress, but it has had a real and positive affect on individuals experiencing bi-polar disorder (also known as manic depression), depression, and mood swings. Additionally, EPA has been shown to improve memory, concentration and mental processing. As if this were not enough, it has also been shown to be beneficial in treating skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and acne.
Though bottles labelled 'EPA' may be readily purchased from most health food stores, they most often contain too high a proportion of DHA mixed in with the EPA. Almost all of the research has been conducted with pure EPA and so, when choosing to supplement, it is important to select a fish oil high in EPA and low in DHA in order to gain the maximum benefit. UK residents can check mind1st.co.uk when considering purchasing EPA, while those outside the UK will need to go online to locate a supplier. In my experience, it really is worth the effort, and the price.
St John's Wort - Often called 'Nature's Prozac', St John's Wort is also sometimes referred to as 'the sunshine vitamin', though it is not a vitamin but a herbal supplement.
St John's Wort has been used for centuries in Europe in order to treat mental disorders and relieve pain and, while not recommended for cases of major depression, this herb has shown itself to be useful in the treatment of mild to moderate depression, anxiety and mood disorders.
It is thought that the active agent in St John's Wort works by preventing neurons or brain cells from re-absorbing serotonin - commonly referred to as 'the happiness molecule' - thereby stimulating an abundance of this essential, mood-influencing chemical messenger in the brain. Some researchers have suggested that it works by reducing the quantity of a specific protein that is involved in the healthy functioning of the immune system.
But whatever its mechanism, it certainly does appear to have had a remarkable effect on the many clients I have recommended it to.
Because St John's Wort can inter-react with certain medications, do remember to check with your health advisor before taking this powerful supplement.
Once that is cleared, look forward to seeing results within a few weeks of regular supplementation.
Vitamin B Complex - The B complex vitamins are needed for the healthy regulation of the nervous system. Indeed, without these essential nutrients, not only would we cease to function mentally, but eventually everything would grind to a halt.
Vitamins B1, B6 and B12 are needed for the effective functioning of the brain, as well as the whole nervous system. Indeed, a deficiency of any of the B vitamins can lead to feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression, not to mention feelings of fatigue and lethargy.
In an age of convenience and fast foods, with its emphasis on marketing and profit, it can be difficult to obtain a sufficient quantity and quality of these important nutrients. Also, since each of the B vitamins works in close synergy with the others, a deficiency in any one B vitamin can provoke poor functioning of the others - even if they are in abundant supply in the diet. Because of this, it is wisest to take the B vitamins in a complete complex. Since the B vitamins are water-soluble, any excess is readily excreted in the urine.
Do be sure to read the label before buying, however. Cheap vitamin B complex can often be short in vitamin B6, since this is a relatively expensive vitamin to produce. Also, since vitamin B12 in particular is not easily absorbed when taken orally, look for a preparation that ideally has its vitamins in 'chelated' form. This simply means that the vitamins have been bonded with amino acids so that they can be efficiently absorbed and utilised by the body. Of course, chelated vitamins do cost a bit more, but it is well worth that little bit extra.
After all, what is really important is not so much what we swallow, but what we actually absorb.
Give these supplements a try for just three months and notice how your mood and mental functioning change and improve.
IMPORTANT: This Information is not a replacement for medical or nutritional advice. Since certain supplements are contra-indicated for some individuals, especially those taking other medication, before beginning any programme of supplementation you are advised to visit your doctor or other qualified health care professional.