2017-03-27
<p>A healthy, balanced diet is vital for mental health, but certain vitamins and minerals are especially important for keeping you upbeat and feeling good. Failing to get enough of these nutrients may contribute to problems like depression and anxiety. Do you know what it takes to nourish your brain? Test your knowledge of these nutrients with this quiz.</p> <p style="FONT-STYLE: italic">Erin O’Donnell is a former editor of Natural Health magazine. She writes about health and wellbeing, and lives in Wisconsin.</p>
1

In addition to giving you a “sunny” disposition, this vitamin strengthens your bones and boosts your immunity.

Recent studies suggest that people with low levels of the so-called “sunshine vitamin” in their blood faced an increased risk of depression. Vitamin D also helps your body to use calcium and maintain bone density, and it activates your immune system.
2

This food packs a major vitamin D punch.

Oily coldwater fish like salmon and mackerel are great sources of vitamin D, but the best way to avoid deficiency is to spend five to 10 minutes in the sun (without sunscreen) several times a week in the spring, summer, and fall. Sun stimulates vitamin D production in your skin.
3

Some adults over age 60 don’t get enough of this vitamin, and deficiencies may play a role in depression.

An estimated 10 to 15 percent of people over age 60 don’t absorb vitamin B12 properly. Symptoms of a deficiency include numbness and tingling in your arms or legs, memory loss, and mood changes. If you suspect a B12 deficiency, ask your doctor to test your blood levels.
4

Which of the following foods is the best source of vitamin B12?

This nutrient is most abundant in animal products (so vegetarians may need to supplement). Turkey, salmon, and eggs all contain vitamin B12, but clams offer the most. Beef liver is another standout source.
5

Which pair of nutrients may prevent women from developing PMS symptoms like irritability and moodiness?

In addition to keeping your bones strong, a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D (which helps the body absorb calcium) may protect women against developing premenstrual syndrome, researchers say.
6

Which food isn’t a good source of calcium?

The banana contains a negligible amount of calcium. We all know milk and cheese are calcium-rich, but it’s smart to think beyond dairy to get your daily dose of this bone-building, PMS-preventing mineral. Leafy greens, sesame seeds, and almonds are all good sources.
7

A deficiency in this nutrient can trigger muscle tension and irritability.

Your body needs magnesium to maintain muscle and nerve function, and muscle cramps and a foul mood may signal that you’re not getting enough.
8

Which snack food provides the biggest burst of magnesium?

Trail mix is a magnesium standout when it includes ingredients like almonds, pumpkin seeds, and chocolate chips, which each offer a hefty dose of magnesium on their own.
9

Which of the following vitamins has been shown to make antidepressant medications more effective?

Interestingly, researchers believe folic acid may help antidepressant medicines work better. Folic acid also seems to support mood in other ways; some studies show that depressed people have low blood levels of this vitamin.
10

Which breakfast offers the biggest dose of folic acid?

Many fortified breakfast cereals provide up to 100 percent of your daily value of folic acid. Strawberries are another tasty source of folate (the version found in food). And consider sipping some orange juice too; OJ is also folate-rich.
11

Which antioxidant helps your brain use neurotransmitters, the brain chemicals that affect mood?

Your brain requires vitamin C to synthesize the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. But that’s just one of vitamin C’s many jobs in the body. It’s also an effective antioxidant and used by the body to make collagen, a component of blood vessels and bone.
12

What’s the best way to preserve the vitamin C content of fruits and vegetables?

Vitamin C is easily destroyed by cooking and exposure to air. To keep fruits and veggies chock-full of vitamin C, cut them shortly before you plan to eat them, and eat them raw whenever possible.
13

Which vitamin helps your brain synthesize serotonin, a neurotransmitter with relaxing effects?

In addition to maintaining healthy nerve function, B6 also helps your body make brain chemicals including serotonin. And some studies show that B6 may minimize PMS symptoms.
14

Which food provides the biggest B6 bang?

A meal of yellow fin tuna offers the most vitamin B6 of all the foods listed. Other great sources include spinach, red peppers, and fortified breakfast cereals.
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