6 Nutrient Deficiencies That Could Be Causing Or Contributing To Your Depression

6 Nutrient Deficiencies That Could Be Causing Or Contributing To Your Depression

A variety of protein powder and shakes.

Everywhere I look these days people are struggling with depression and anxiety. Teenagers, mom’s, older people, even in young kids! Mental health was already reaching a crisis point prior to the pandemic, and following this it has become at an all-time high, even though life has gone back to (relative) normal. By 2030, experts report that major depressive disorder (MDD) will become the main contributor to disease burden globally, and The Lancet-World Psychiatric Association Commission on depression states that depression is already a global health crisis.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 5% of adults (300 million people) worldwide live with depression, but about 75% of people with depression don’t get the treatment they need. About half of individuals diagnosed with depression also have a history of one or more anxiety diagnoses. So often people are dealing with multiple mental health problems.

The first course of action is for people to go to their family doctor and be put on antidepressants. But those can often come with many side effects and do not always work effectively. There can be a number of underlying reasons for depression and these are rarely explored by your doctor. It is important that these should be looked at to determine potential underlying issues and subsequently the best treatment approach.

 

Vitamin and Mineral deficiencies can cause or contribute to depression

Vitamins and minerals, although needed in smaller amounts in the body, are crucial for our body and brain to function effectively. Research shows that deficiencies in vitamins B6, B12, folate, vitamin D, zinc and magnesium can all contribute to depression. Research also shows that low levels of B6, B12 and folic acid are excellent predictors of low mood.

 

Depression and Methylation

There is a process in our body called methylation, which is responsible for keeping thousands of neurotransmitters, hormones and other essential biochemicals in balance. Methylation is an important factor in determining your mood, motivation, concentration and ability to deal with stress. If you have problems with methylation this can contribute to high homocysteine levels.

Homocysteine is a toxic amino acid, so we always want to keep homocysteine levels in the body low. That’s where vitamins B12, B6 and folate come in. They help to break down homocysteine to create other chemicals your body needs. Without treatment, elevated homocysteine increases your risk of depression. Research shows that the higher your homocysteine levels the more likely you can feel depressed and demotivated. (1)

Studies have shown that over half of people with severe depression were found to have high homocysteine levels and high levels of homocysteine can double the risk of having depression. (1) High homocysteine levels are common in individuals with a folate or B12 deficiency and in those suffering from depression who have a poor response to anti-depressants. (2,3) So you may want to consider as part of your treatment to get blood work done and have your homocysteine levels as well as your B6 and B12 tested.

 

Folic Acid and Depression

Poor folic acid intake is found in up to 38% of people with diagnosed with depression and many notice improvements when they increase their intake of folic rich foods. (5) Folic acid is essential for nerve cell growth and maintenance as well personality and mood. Depressed patients who are folic acid deficient may be less responsive to antidepressant medications.

Research in men showed that men who had the highest blood levels of folic acid had half the risk of developing depression. (4) Another study of 15,000 people showed that the lower the persons folate levels in the blood the greater their risk of depression. (5)

Folic acid is found in dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and beans but is easily destroyed when food is cooked too long, reheated or cooked in large amounts of water such as boiling instead of the preferable method of light steaming.

Try our pesto baked eggs recipe which is loaded with folic acid as well as vitamin D.

 

Vitamin B6 and Depression

Vitamin B6 plays an important role in mood regulation. Several studies have shown that depressive symptoms are associated with low blood levels of B6 and a diet low in B6. (6) B6 is necessary for creating neurotransmitters that regulate emotions, including serotonin (that makes us happy), dopamine (that helps us feel motivation and the sense of pleasure) and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) (that helps us feel calm and relaxed). Therefore, it plays a crucial role in managing our moods and feelings. (7)

Vitamin B6 may also play a role in decreasing high blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine, which have been linked to depression and other psychiatric issues. (8,9) Although the research doesn’t necessarily show that supplementing with B6 can help with depression, this might mean that a more collaborative approach of taking a B complex with B12 and folic acid might be a more effective strategy. It also gives you better bang for your buck in terms of cost with taking all the B vitamins at once.

Loaded in B6, Folic acid and zinc try this simple spinach scramble recipe.

 

Vitamin B12 and Depression

Researchers found that a decrease in the vitamin B12 levels in the blood correlates with an increase in depression and that high vitamin B12 status may be associated with better treatment outcomes of depression. (10) One possible connection is the effect of vitamin B12 on the levels of serotonin in your brain, in addition to other chemicals. B12 is an important nutrient needed in the methylation process. Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products so vegetarians, people with digestive disorders such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease or people who have low stomach acid are more at risk of a deficiency. Stomach acid naturally diminishes as we age (over 40) so older people are also at greater risk of a B12 deficiency. For example, in a study of 700 elderly women, those with vitamin B12 deficiencies were twice as likely as others to be severely depressed. (11)

Vitamin B12 supplementation in conjunction with antidepressants has been shown significantly improve depressive symptoms. (12) So, this might be a great option to enhance the effects of your medication.

Looking for a delicious meal that is high in B12, try our classic beef roast recipe!

 

Vitamin D and Depression

There are Vitamin D receptors found in the areas of the brain that are linked to the development of depression. Canadian researchers reviewed 14 studies, consisting of over 31,000 participants and found a strong correlation between depression and a lack of Vitamin D. The lower the Vitamin D level, the greater the chance of depression. (14)

Vitamin D can be obtained through foods, but this is limited. Most of our vitamin D comes from the sun and our skin’s ability to make Vitamin D. For some individuals obtaining adequate amounts of vitamin D through exposure to UV light throughout the year is nearly impossible. The best way to get the vitamin D that you need is to supplement. Ideally it is best to get your vitamin D levels checked as you may require significant higher doses if you are low.

Ideally supplementing between 1000-3000 IUs a day is a good starting point. Try our delicious Vitamin D rich rosemary walnut crusted salmon recipe.

 

Zinc and Depression

Zinc is important for helping to balance blood sugars, stabilise your metabolism, and make serotonin. In one study low zinc levels in the blood were strongly linked with increased risk for depression and this might be one nutrient that you need to increase in your diet. (16)

One study showed that supplementing with 25 mg of zinc improved recovery in people with depression that did not respond to anti-depressants. (17) If you are low in zinc, you may experience frequent colds and flu, loss or diminished sense of smell and taste, lack of appetite and of course depression.

Loaded in zinc, try our yummy coconut yogurt clusters.

 

Magnesium

Magnesium helps to make serotonin which can help combat depression. Research shows that there is a significant link between low magnesium intake and depression in adults. (18)

Studies are also showing that over-the-counter magnesium may be a safe and effective way to treat mild to moderate depression and comparable to prescription SSRI treatments in effectiveness as well as for individuals that have not seen any improvements with taking antidepressants. One study showed that magnesium was just as effective as an anti-depressant in treating depression in diabetics with the added of bonus of not having any of the side effects of the antidepressants and in other studies it has shown that in conjunction with an antidepressant the benefits of the antidepressant was stronger. (19,20)

Food processing, taking antacids and diuretics, as well as caffeine, stress and alcohol can decrease our ability to absorb magnesium. Try our quick and easy broccoli mushroom fried quinoa recipe loaded in B6, magnesium, zinc and folic acid.

 

Summary

If you or your loved one struggles with depression, make sure you explore potential underlying causes of depression that could be contributing to your low mood. This might help provide you with better or more specific treatment options that can give you a lot of success in helping to boost your mood.

Make sure if you visit your doctor you get blood work to check vitamin B12, folic acid, B6, vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc. Increasing your intake of food high in these nutrients and possibly supplementing might help to give you that added boost to your mood and help get you out of that funk.

References

1. H. Tiemeier, et al. Vitamin B12, folate and homocysteine in depression: The Rotterdam study, American Journal of psychiatry, 2002:159 (12): 2099-101, T. Bottiglieri, et al., Homocysteine, folate, methylation and monamine metabolism in depression, Jounral of neurology, neurosurgery and psychiatry, 2000;69;228-32; M. Fava and T. Bottiglerri, et al Folate, vitamin B12 and homocysteine in major depressive disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry 1997;154;426-8

2. BMC Psychiatry. 2003;3:17–22. 16. Tiemeier H, vanTuijl HR, Hofman A, Meijer J, Kiliaan AJ, Breteler MM.

3. Vitamin B12 folate and homocysteine in depression the Rotterdam Study. Am J Psychiatry. 2002;159(12):2099–01. 17. Sachdev PS, Parslow RA, Lux O, et al. Relationship of homocysteine folic acid and vitamin B12 with depression in a middle aged community sample. Psychol Med. 2005;35(4):529–38.)

4. A. Nanri, et al., Serum folate and homocysteine and depressive symptoms among Japenese men and women, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 2010;64 (2):289-96

5. S. Gilbody, et al., Is low folate a risk for depression? A meta-analysis and exploration of heterogeneity, Journal of Epidemiology and Community health, July 2007;61 (7): 631-7

6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15479988/ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20519557/

7. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-B6 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18494537/

8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17541043/

9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17729191/

10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15671130/

11. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/guide-to-psychiatry-and-counseling.

12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3856388/

13. Spedding, S. (2014). Vitamin D and Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Comparing Studies with and without Biological Flaws. Nutrients, 6(4), 1501–1518. doi: 10.3390/nu6041501

14. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, St Joseph’s Hospital, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

15. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-2796.2008.02008.x,

16. Rafalo, A., Sowa-Kucma, M., Pochwat, B., Nowak, G., & Szewczyk, B. (2016). Zinc Deficiency and Depression. Nutritional Deficiency. doi: 10.5772/63210

17. M. Siwek, et al., Zinc supplementation augments efficacy of imipramine in treatment resistant patients: A double blind placebo controlled study, Journal of Affective Disorders, November 2009;118(1-3): 187-95, Department of Psychiatry, Jagiellonian University, Poland

18. Tarleton EK, Littenberg B. Magnesium intake and depression in adults. The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. 2015;28(2):249-256. doi:10.3122/jabfm.2015.02.140176

19. Tarleton EK, Littenberg B, MacLean CD, Kennedy AG, Daley C. Role of magnesium supplementation in the treatment of depression: A randomized clinical trial. Song Y, ed. PLoS ONE. 2017;12(6):e0180067. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0180067

20. 1.Tarleton EK, Kennedy AG, Rose GL, Crocker A, Littenberg B. The association between serum magnesium levels and depression in an adult primary care population. Nutrients. 2019;11(7):1475. doi:10.3390/nu11071475

How Much Does a Nutritionist Cost?

How Much Does a Nutritionist Cost?

Detoxifying vegetables and fruits

It can be tough to know if you are getting value for your money when seeking out a nutritionist to help you with your health goals. We wanted to help you understand if you are being overcharged or paying the appropriate amount for a quality service.

What Nutrition Associations Report

While conducting this research, we reached out to various nutrition associations. Below we’ve outlined what each organization indicated was the market rate for nutritionists in Ontario.

The Institute of Holistic Nutrition (IHN) was asked to provide their professional opinion as to market average rates for nutritionists in Ontario. They have campuses in Vancouver, Mississauga, Toronto and Ottawa. They indicated that, the base market average rate per hour rate for nutritionists working in clinical or private practice in Ontario, is $90.00. It is important to note, that the market average rate range per hour for a nutritionist working in clinical or private practice in Ontario with a specified knowledge base and experience can be up to $120.00 – $170.00.

The International Organization of Nutrition Consultants (IONC) indicated the average hourly rate for a Registered Orthomolecular Health Practitioner (ROHP) or Registered Nutritional Consulting Practitioner (RNCP) in Ontario is between $75.00 – $125.00 per hour and correlates with experience and skillset.

The Canadian Association of Natural Nutrition Practitioners (CANNP) reported the average range is $85.00 – $150.00 for a first visit which may be one hour or more. They also indicated that many clinicians package out their nutrition sessions over 4–12 sessions to help with client compliance and follow-through, and that the higher the number of sessions often the lower the hourly rate. Packages or programs can be an excellent option for clients to receive a greater value for their investment.

The Edison Institute of Holistic Nutrition recommended the hourly rate of $90.00 – $120.00 an hour.

Based on the above, the range for the hourly rate for a nutritionist is anywhere between $75 and $170 with the average being approximately between $110 – $122.50 an hour.

Factors That Impact The Cost Of A Nutritionist

There are a number of factors that affect the cost of nutrition services, including education level, the pricing structure and packages they offer, and their reputation. Geographic location is another factor, as often in larger more metropolitan cities rates are higher as compared to more rural areas. Of course, additional training or expertise in a specific health concern or area of focus will likely also impact the cost of services as well.

Insurance Coverage For Nutritionists

Nutritionist’s services are insurable in Ontario. More and more organizations, such as school boards and large banks, are recognizing the advantage of covering nutrition services in their extended health benefit programs That said, each individual employer can opt in or out of coverage for nutritionists, so please check your plan coverage for more details. It’s important to note, a dietitian is different from a nutritionist, so when checking your coverage make sure to clarify your options.

Auto-insurance companies can also cover nutritionists’ services for individuals who have been involved in a motor vehicle accident (MVA). Koru Nutrition is set up on HCAI and can submit OCF-18s for nutrition services for individuals injured in an MVA.

Summary

It’s important to take into account a nutritionist’s education, level of experience, market rates, and insurance coverage options when considering the value of the service they are offering. We hope the above helps you make an informed decision about your health care!

If you would like to explore nutrition services with Koru Nutrition we would love to help you on your health journey book now with Koru Nutrition.

 

    Top 5 Questions To Get Answered Before Seeing A Nutritionist Or A Dietitian

    Top 5 Questions To Get Answered Before Seeing A Nutritionist Or A Dietitian

    Woman looking pensively

    The natural health and nutrition industry is packed with confusing messages, contradictory information, and a wide-range of professionals with varied training. So, we’ve written this article to help you consider key questions to have answered before selecting a nutritionist or dietitian to help you reach your health goals.

    1. What Is The Nutritionist’s or Dietitian’s Education?

    If a nutrition professional isn’t being up-front about their credentials, that could be a concern.

    Most places in the world, the title “dietitian” is protected and refers to a regulated health profession, meaning only individuals who have completed the necessary 4-year university degree, a one-year intern at a hospital, and passed their board exam can use the title.

    Conversely, the title “nutritionist” is not protected and nutritionists are not regulated health professionals. This means that someone can do a weekend or a basic nutrition course and legally call himself or herself a nutritionist and this is where a lot of confusion can occur. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see a nutritionist, just that it’s important to understand the individual’s specific training first.

    In Ontario the main nutrition schools are the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition which awards the title Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN), The Institute of Holistic Nutrition with the designation Certified Nutrition Practitioner (CNP) or Edison School of Holistic Nutrition. This can be a 1-2 year program and once graduated nutritionist’s gain a diploma. During their training they are educated on sciences such as biochemistry, nutrition pathology, symptomatology, anatomy and physiology much more. All of Koru’s nutritionists have graduated from at least one of these institutions.

    Click here for more information on the difference between a nutritionist and a dietitian.

     

    2. How Does a Nutritionist or Dietitian Charge?

    There are a few aspects to cost that are wise to consider:

    Firstly, what their hourly rate is and do they have packages or value-added offerings?

    Secondly, if you have extended health benefits, it is also important to consider if your individual plan will cover a dietitian, a nutritionist, or both. For example, if you only have benefits coverage for dietitians, it may sway you to choose a dietitian to work with.

    Thirdly, if you are requiring services that are more specialized to your diagnosis and required additional training, that individual will most likely command a higher hourly rate.

    Lastly, if funds are tight ask the clinician what strategies or recommendations they can provide to help implement a nutrition program if finances are limited. You won’t get the best bang-for-your-buck if you’re paying for a service, but then the food and meal recommendations are too expensive for you. While working with a nutrition professional you might be paying more for certain foods such as produce, but you are likely to be saving on food costs in other areas such as reducing take-out foods.

    For more information on how much a nutritionist or dietitian charge please check out our articles.

    3. How Will The Nutrition Program or Support Be Delivered?

    Having awareness of your individual weaknesses and strengths, as well as your personal preferences, will help you choose the best nutrition professional to work with.

    • Are you going to need regularly scheduled support or accountability? Then look for programs where that can be built into the structure.
    • Are you going to struggle to make a lot of changes at once? Then you need more of a program that allows you to take baby steps and regular sessions.
    • Do you want to dive right in with a complete overhaul? Then you may be able to complete a few sessions or receive a nutrition protocol and self-manage from there.
    • If you’re looking for a meal plan, can the nutrition professional provide it?
    • Are you more interested in number-based facts and recommendations focused on calories, fats, protein, and carbohydrates? The check with the clinician is this so something that they can provide.

    Of course, it’s also important to make sure that the nutrition professional can factor in your lifestyle. Different strategies will work better for busy working moms compared to elite athletes, or may be dependent on cultural needs as well. Both the cost and nutrition recommendations should not only be achievable and realistic, but also sustainable over the long-term.

    Whether you find this information on a website, call an office, or speak directly to the nutrition professional– it’s important to have confidence that you’ll receive nutrition recommendations that are going to work for you.

    4. What Specific Experience Does The Nutrition Professional Have With Your Specific Health Concern(s)?

    Nutrition and supplementation can be complicated. Certain “healthy” foods can actually be problematic for specific individuals.

    If you have general health goals such as losing weight, having more energy, or sleeping better then most nutrition professionals would be able to help you reach your goals. If you are looking for someone to help address specific health challenges such as Autism, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, or brain injury the clinician needs to have specific training and/or experience. If your needs are medically-based such as kidney disease, uncontrolled diabetes, or related to bariatric surgery then we’d recommend you specifically seek out a dietitian.

    Take a look at the nutrition professional’s biography. What does it tell you about their personal, educational, and clinical experience? Can you find any reviews online? This information can help you choose the right professional for your individual circumstances!

    5. What Tools Does The Nutrition Professional Use In Their Practice To Help You Stay On Track?

    Each individual is different with regards to what educational strategies, testing options, tracking processes and/or motivational factors will be of the biggest benefit. Are you looking for:

    • Regular check-in sessions
    • Food tracking apps
    • Computerized analysis of their food journals
    • A Facebook group or community support group
    • Tracking body measurements or the use of a body composition machine
    • Lab and blood work tests
    • Education and resources, (handouts, websites, books and groups)

    Weekly Individualized Meal plans. Often, nutrition professionals will provide a combination of the above, plus they may help you explore support systems within your family or strategies within your home to help keep you on track. The list can be extensive but the motivating strategies needs to be individualized and based on what’s going to work for you.

     

    Are You Ready To See A Nutritionist Or Dietitian?

    We hope that the above helps provide some insight into finding the right nutritionist or dietitian for you.

    Your health is important, so finding the right professional for you is a critical aspect of your health journey.

     

    If you are ready to book a session with Koru Nutrition, click here.

    Or, we welcome you to reach out to Koru’s founder, Kylie James, so she can help match you to a practitioner who is most suited to your unique situation, whether that’s at Koru Nutrition or via referral.

    The Difference Between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist

    The Difference Between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist

    Dietitians Vs Nutritionists

    For a long time, there have been reports of a huge divide between nutritionists and dietitians. But, is this divide real or just a lack of understanding on what each discipline can offer and do?

    Through this article, we will help to explain the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist and dispel some of the myths surrounding both professions!

    Education

    A dietitian must complete a 4-year university degree and demonstrate core competencies, which can be done via a one-year internship or by completing a master’s degree. At that point, they are eligible to write a Registration exam, which would permit them to work in the field. The term “dietitian” is a protected title that guarantees someone has undergone all of the above education and training, and is properly registered.

    Nutritionists receive a diploma after one or two years of schooling, which usually includes case studies, a co-op placement and/or exam. Although there are great nutrition schools in Canada, not everyone who calls themselves a nutritionist, has adequate training. The title “nutritionist” is not a protected title in most provinces, meaning that someone who has taken a weekend course or basic training can legally call themselves a nutritionist. This information is not meant to serve as a deterrent to consulting with a nutritionist, rather as reason to understand an individual’s specific training.

    Dietitian training is academic, quite theoretical, science and institutional based and provides nutrition approaches that have been already proved through research. Nutritionist training is also evidence based with theory and science, although tends be a more holistic, with a more hands on approach and with more practical tools and strategies.

    Regulation

    Another important distinction is that dietitians are regulated and nutritionist are not. The job of regulation is to protect the public, not the practitioner. So, to become regulated in Ontario for example, a profession must prove to be a danger to the public. This is a major factor into why nutritionists are not regulated, as they do not break the skin (with needles, for example)

    Many people hold regulated health professionals in higher regard, however regulation does come with its drawbacks. In addition to the high costs associated with regulation, dietitians are bound by very strict guidelines and rules. Since nutritionists are not regulated, they are not bound by the same restrictions or regulations and have more freedom to recommend nutrition strategies that are newly emerging in science but as yet to have the vigorous studies to consolidate specific outcomes.

    Supplements

    Dietitians can recommend supplements such as vitamins and minerals based on the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), and only in certain circumstances where the need is higher can they recommend an increased dose, but once approved, it can only be prescribed by a doctor. Though they can recommend a supplement where there is a known deficiency, they are not allowed to recommend orthomolecular/therapeutic doses of nutrients, herbs such as adaptogens, enzymes, or essential oils, while nutritionists can. Unlike nutritionists, dietitians are prohibited to make profit from the sale of supplements.

    Dietitians tend to rely on supplementary products such as Boost and Ensure since these are accessible in hospitals, stores, and the local pharmacy, as well as long term care facilities. Nutritionists often avoid these products and tend to rely on more natural options, taking care to avoid sugars, additives, and preservatives found in local health food stores.

    Canadian Food Guide

    Canada’s Food Guide has, in the past, been the template for the actions of dietitians; while nutritionists rely on the information divulged by the client to build an individualized protocol. That said, individual dietitians vary in their approach with the Canadian Food guide, some follow it “loosely” and others who follow it completely. However, the newest version of Canada’s Food Guide is actually a much better representation of a healthy diet plan and brings the two disciplines closer from an overall nutrition perspective.

    Medical Versus Alternative Medicine

    Dietitians are trained to work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and supermarkets, often alongside or under family doctors and tend to follow a more medical approach to adjusting dietary habits. Dietitians can, at times, be more calorie focused and make macronutrient recommendations regarding protein, fat and carbohydrate amounts in the diet. That said, many of the “new school dietitians” are now focusing on a more holistic approach and consider more than just “calories in versus calories out”.

    Nutritionists are often seen working alongside Naturopathic Doctors or Chiropractors, in health food stores, or in private practice. Most nutritionists follow a holistic approach which focuses on implementing therapeutic foods, supplements, lifestyle recommendations, and trying to support the body through addressing underlying root causes of health imbalances. Most frequently, people turn to a nutritionist when they feel their health needs were not met by conventional medicine.

    The distinct approaches lead to the realization that dietitians use their expertise to address medical conditions and have a tendency to follow a medical model, while nutritionists have freedom outside the medical model and are focused on restoring or maintaining optimal health and finding root cause.

    In Summary

    Making the decision to consult with a nutritionist or a dietitian is based on your individual needs, comfort level, and values.

    We have both nutritionists and dietitians on our team at Koru Nutrition! It is hoped that the information above has helped provide insight into what would be the best approach and clinician for you!

    If you feel ready, you can book here with one of Koru Nutrition’s dietitians. Or, you can book here with one of our nutritionists.