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a variety of nutrient dense foods
  1. Iron is essential for forming hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that helps transport oxygen from the lungs to the brain. Food sources: red meat, pumpkin seeds, oysters, and spinach.
  2. Magnesium regulates neuro­transmitters that stabilize mood. Food sources: almonds, cashews, and spinach. (See “Why Magnesium Is Crucial for Your Health” for more.)
  3. Omega-3 fatty acids, such as long-chain EPA and DHA, promote neuroplasticity and neurotransmission. Food sources: wild salmon, anchovies, walnuts, and flaxseeds.
  4. Potassium is necessary for neurotransmission. Food sources: bananas, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and white beans.
  5. Selenium helps thyroid function and regulates mood. Food sources: Brazil nuts, sardines, and eggs.
  6. Vitamin A supports neuroplasticity. Food sources: leafy greens, orange and yellow vegetables, and beef liver.
  7. Vitamin B6 aids brain growth and function. Food sources: chickpeas, beef liver, and leafy greens.
  8. Vitamin B12 helps produce the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Food sources: clams, dairy products, and nutritional yeast.
  9. Folate, or B9, is critical for mood. Food sources: Brussels sprouts, leafy greens, and beef liver. (Learn more about B vitamins at “All About B Vitamins.”)
  10. Thiamine, or B1, supports energy production for brain health. Food sources: nuts, legumes, and beef.
  11. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that fights inflammation. Food sources: citrus, red peppers, broccoli, leafy greens, and strawberries.
  12. Zinc can aid neuroplasticity. Food sources: pumpkin seeds, oysters, and beef.

Learn about the connection between food and mood and what you can eat to support your mental health at “How Diet Can Make — or Break — Your Mental Health,” from which this article was excerpted.

Chrystle Fiedler

Chrystle Fiedler is a Florida-based health journalist, author, and editor.

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