“Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.”
– Christian D. Larson

Diet & Depression

Diet, the food we eat, plays a significant role in maintaining a healthy mood and preventing or reducing depression. Studies have indicated that a diet directed at reducing inflammation and sustaining nutrients supportive of the brain neurochemistry related to depression may reduce the risk or severity of depression.


See also:

Depression: Complimentary and Alternative Managment

Diet & Dopamine


Purchasing Supplements

When purchasing supplements reviewed on this web site and discussed with Dr. Ehlenberger, a discount on usual commercial pricing can be obtained by purchasing from Accurate Clinic’s online Supplement Store after acquiring the discount code from Accurate Clinic:


Accurate Clinic’s Supplement Store


or call Toll-Free:

877-846-7122  (Option 1)



Key to Links:

Grey text – handout

Red text – another page on this website

Blue text – Journal publication



Depression Diet

Studies have indicated that the Mediterranean Diet, an anti-inflammatory diet, reduces the risk for depression. The  Mediterranean diet is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, in which the ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids is high. Lower dietary levels of omega 3 and excess dietary levels of omega 6 are linked to depression.


The Mediterranean diet is characterized by:

  1. High intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits, and (unrefined) cereals
  2. Moderate to high intake of fish
  3. Low intake of saturated fats
  4. High intake of mono-unsaturated especially olive oil
  5. Low to moderate intake of dairy, mostly cheese and yogurt
  6. Low intake of meat
  7. Modest intake of alcohol, mostly as wine

See Nutrition and Supplements



Diet Elements for Managing Depression


It has been shown that the long-term effect of a high glycemic load diets is to worsen mood and predispose to depression.

See Carbohydrates


 Amino Acids


Those people with depression, or at risk for depression, are likely to experience a mood benefit from a short term tryptophan-rich diet with high Trp:LNAA (tryptophan:other amino acids) ratios based on selected foods or tryptophan supplements. However, if taken to extremes excessive tryptophan intake can have the reverse effect of impairing mood.


Similarly, cognitive improvement in terms of memory and learning may be expected from a short term tryptophan-rich diet with high Trp:LNAA ratios based on selected foods or tryptophan supplements. However, if taken to extremes excessive tryptophan intake can have the reverse effect of impairing memory and learning.


Foods rich in tryptophan include chicken, soy beans, cereals, tuna, nuts and bananas.

See Tryptophan


Thiamine (Vitamin B1)

Thiamine has been shown to enhance mood, although thiamine deficiency is rare.


Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is essential in the manufacture of all monoamine neurotransmitters: serotonin, dopamine, noradrenaline.  The monamine theory of depression, the dominant theory underlying our current  understanding of the neurochemical basis of depression, purports that an imbalance in the brain levels of these neurotransmitters is associated with depression. Like thiamine, vitaminB6 deficiency is rare.

Folate (Vitamin B9)

Like Vitamin B6, folate is an essential vitamin neccesary to synthesize dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. While folate deficiency is rare, there are important genetic variants that impair individual’s ability to use folate as the building block for the manufacture of serotonin. The first step in this manufacturing process is to add a methyl group to folate to form L-methyl folate. The ability to process this first step is significantly impaired in individual’s with variants in either of two MTHFR genes.


Those patients with these variants may be predisposed to depression and may have an incomplete response to antidepressants. Dietary supplementation with L-methyl folate may allow for a clinical response in mild cases of depression and may facilitate a response to medication-resistant depression.


Testing for MTHFR genetic variants can be performed with a simple oral swab of saliva and the results can help guide the management of depression.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency has been reported in the literature to contribute to depression but definitive studies are lacking.

See Vitamin D




Studies suggest that low magnesium can trigger depress
ive symptoms.

1. Almonds, cashews, and other nuts are a great source of magnesium.

2. Green vegetables, such as soybeans and spinach, are also good sources of magnesium.

See Magnesium



Studies suggest that low dietary zinc can contribute to depression and impair response to antiidepressant medications. The best sources of zinc are oysters (richest source), red meats, poultry, cheese (ricotta, Swiss, gouda), shrimp, crab, and other shellfish. Good plant sources of zinc include legumes (especially lima beans, black-eyed peas, pinto beans, soybeans, peanuts), whole grains, miso, tofu, brewer’s yeast, cooked greens, mushrooms, green beans, tahini, and pumpkin, and sunflower seeds. Due to the presence in plants of phytates which block absorption of zinc, plants may not provide enough accessible zinc which can lead to deficiency.

See Zinc



CAM, Depression – Overview

  1. Depression  – Diet & CAM Summary
  2. Complementary and Alternative Medical Treatment for Depression, Biology of Depression – 2005
  3. An Overview of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Therapies for Anxiety and Depressive Disorders Veterans Health Admin – 2011
  4. Second-tier natural antidepressants – Review and critique – 2010
  5. CAM Therapies to Promote Healthy Moods – 2007
  6. Vitamin D and Depression – Where is all the Sunshine? – 2010


CAM, Depression – Diet

  1. Depression  – Diet & CAM Summary
  2. Food-derived serotonergic modulators – effects on mood and cognition – 2013
  3. Vitamin D and Depression – Where is all the Sunshine? – 2010
  4. Dietary tips for mental health
  5. Acute Phenylalanine Tyrosine Depletion – A New Method to Study the Role of Catecholamines in Psychiatric Disorders – 2004
  6. Effects on Mood of Acute Phenylalanine Tyrosine Depletion in Healthy Women – 2000


CAM, Depression Individual Supplements

CAM Depression – Acetyl-l-Carnitine

CAM Depression – CoQ-10

CAM Depression – Inositol

CAM Depression – NRF2 Activators

CAM Depression – Rhodiola Rosea

CAM Depression – SAMe

CAM Depression – 5-HTP & Tryptophan</stron g>

CAM Depression – St John’s Wort

CAM Depression – Zinc

Emphasis on Education


Accurate Clinic promotes patient education as the foundation of it’s medical care. In Dr. Ehlenberger’s integrative approach to patient care, including conventional and complementary and alternative medical (CAM) treatments, he may encourage or provide advice about the use of supplements. However, the specifics of choice of supplement, dosing and duration of treatment should be individualized through discussion with Dr. Ehlenberger. The following information and reference articles are presented to provide the reader with some of the latest research to facilitate evidence-based, informed decisions regarding the use of conventional as well as CAM treatments.


For medical-legal reasons, access to these links is limited to patients enrolled in an Accurate Clinic medical program.


Should you wish more information regarding any of the subjects listed – or not listed –  here, please contact Dr. Ehlenberger. He has literally thousands of published articles to share on hundreds of topics associated with pain management, weight loss, nutrition, addiction recovery and emergency medicine. It would take years for you to read them, as it did him.


For more information, please contact Accurate Clinic.


Supplements recommended by Dr. Ehlenberger may be purchased commercially online or at Accurate Clinic.

Please read about our statement regarding the sale of products recommended by Dr. Ehlenberger.

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