January 8 through 14th is National Folic Acid Awareness Week and I would like to bring awareness to how important folic acid is for our mood.
Of course, we also need to raise awareness that adequate folic acid intake is important for the prevention of birth defects and this is well covered here http://folicacidinfo.org/.
Back to mood…folic acid and vitamin B12 are B vitamins that are important for depression, and given the links between anxiety and depression, they may also be helpful for anxiety. They also support heart health, which is important if you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks, which stress the heart.
A 2009 study found that supplementing with 800 mcg of folic acid, 500 mcg of vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin), and only 3mg of vitamin B6 daily for six months improved the general well-being of people with celiac disease, while also helping with anxiety and depression. I have found this to be true for those with gluten intolerance too.
You also need to watch your alcohol consumption. Many of the nutrients depleted by alcohol are important for preventing anxiety: zinc, vitamin C, magnesium, fatty acids, antioxidants, and the stress-busting B vitamins, such as B6 (pyridoxine), B1 (thiamine), and folic acid.
Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke also result in nutrient depletions: vitamin C, vitamin E, folic acid, and vitamin B1 .
There are a number of foods that are a great source of folic acid: leafy green vegetables such as spinach and turnip greens, legumes and eggs. I’m not a big fan of the grain products that are fortified with folic acid because they are typically processed foods and because of the gluten mood connection.
Liver is another excellent source of folic acid, and vitamin A, vitamin B12, and other B vitamins, and, of course, iron and protein. Nutrient dense and very healing, organ meats and have been considered a valuable food by many cultures for centuries. If you have unfond memories of beef liver, try liver pate, chicken or lamb liver. You can also freeze liver, then grate it and add it to dishes like meat loaf.
Whenever I do a workshop, I ask folks to raise their hands if they ate liver as a child and most of the time, the majority raise their hands. Then I ask who still eats liver and I usually have one to four people raise their hands! Grandma and mom did know what they were doing! I encourage you to try some liver this week!
Much of this information relating to anxiety and mood and food (and so much more) is covered in The Antianxiety Food Solution: How the Foods You Eat Can Help You Calm Your Anxious Mind, Improve Your Mood and End Cravings, available in major books stores, at Amazon and via www.antianxietyfoodsolution.com