Supplements for Mood

supplementsThere are lots of supplements that are supposed to help with mood and energy and overall health. We try to keep things simple. First, we don’t recommend a supplement unless it has been shown to work in at least one well designed study (randomized, placebo controlled clinical trial). Second, before we recommend a supplement we encourage people to go to Consumer Lab, sign up for a subscription, and check their test results…

Here’s why – Consumer Lab is the only source of quality testing for nutritional supplements in the United States (the FDA largely does not do any testing). And, it often turns out that so called healthy natural supplements don’t have what they claim to have in them, or, occasionally, have extra ingredients (like lead).

So, our short list contains the following –

  1. A multivitamin with plenty of B vitamins
  2. Fish oil (with EPA greater than DHA).
  3. S-adenosyl methionine (for depression).
  4. St. John’s wort (for depression).

A couple of thoughts – both SAMe and St. John’s Wort can induce hypomania (an energized state), start slow and watch for reductions in sleep time. The story on fish oil and multivitamins is an evolving one, for now we think that the benefits outweigh the negatives for folks with depression. Another vitamin (vitamin D) is not on our list because of new evidence that levels that are too high (which you can get if you add a supplement to a normal level in your body) have adverse effects. Consider getting your doctor to test you for your blood level, and then add a supplement if the level is low. Also, if you are a woman with fatigue, you might want to get a test for iron levels. And older folks might want to check blood levels of folate and B12.