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Unlocking Winter Wellness: The Relationship Between Vitamins And Depression

Updated: Apr 8

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HAPPŸLAMP Light Therapy lamp for Seasonal Affective Disorder SAD

As the days get darker and longer, the possibility of feeling down or experiencing bouts of depression increases. We know that light therapy assists significantly, but did you know that the lack of certain vitamins could play a significant role in exacerbating these feelings? Here we delve into the connection between vitamins and winter blues, shedding light on how these essential nutrients work within our bodies. We even have a comforting recipe to boost your mood during the colder months!

Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin

One of the key vitamins associated with combating winter depression is Vitamin D. Often referred to as the "sunshine vitamin," because Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin when exposed to sunlight. However, during the winter months, when daylight hours are shorter and people spend more time indoors, Vitamin D deficiency becomes more prevalent.

This deficiency has been linked to low mood, depression, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Vitamin D isn’t widespread in most diets. It’s found mainly in:

•    Fatty fish like salmon, rainbow trout, and sardines

•    Fortified milk

•    Eggs

•    Mushrooms exposed to ultraviolet light


HOT TIP: Putting mushrooms out in the sun for an hour either sliced or gill-side up will increase their vitamin D content. 

In Australia, vitamin D fortification is mandated for margarines. It is voluntary for low-fat milk, powdered milk, yoghurt and soy milk but is common in fortified orange juice. Check the labels before you buy to ensure you are increasing your Vitamin D intake.


B Vitamins: Energisers for the Mind and Body

In addition to Vitamin D, various B vitamins play crucial roles in maintaining mental well-being. Vitamins such as B6, B9 (folate), and B12 are essential for making neurotransmitters, helping regulate mood and warding off feelings of sadness and lethargy. Incorporating foods rich in these vitamins, such as leafy greens, legumes, and fortified cereals, can contribute to a more stable mood during the winter months.

Vitamin B12 is plentiful in animal foods like:

•    Meat

•    Fish

•    Poultry

•    Eggs

•    Dairy foods

The ‘F’ word: Folate!

This essential vitamin, also recognized as folic acid or vitamin B9, plays a vital role in the synthesis of neurotransmitters within the body. These neurotransmitters act as chemical messengers, facilitating communication from the brain to various parts of the body. Among these messengers are serotonin and dopamine, which contribute to the regulation of mood and emotions.

Research indicates that individuals diagnosed with depression often exhibit lower levels of folate in their bloodstream, suggesting a potential correlation between folate deficiency and susceptibility to depression. However, further investigation is necessary to fully comprehend the intricacies of this relationship.

Leafy green vegetables are the answer to increasing your folate. This includes:

•    Spinach

•    Asparagus 

•    Brussels Sprouts

•    Broccoli

•    Beans

•    Peanuts

•    Sunflower seeds

•    Fresh fruits and fruit juices

•    Legumes (peas, lentils and beans)

Omega-3 Fats

Omega-3 fatty acids are classified as essential fats, indicating that they must be obtained through diet as the body is incapable of producing them. These fats are crucial for optimal brain function, with research suggesting a potential link between higher omega-3 intake and reduced depressive symptoms.

Rich sources of omega-3s include oily cold water fish such as:

•    Salmon

•    Sardines

•    Mackerel

•    Anchovies


A deficiency in protein is rare, but inadequate intake of certain types of protein could be a concern. Protein-rich foods provide essential amino acids, which are utilized by the body in the synthesis of neurotransmitters, some of which are closely associated with feelings of happiness and overall well-being.

Key amino acids such as tyrosine and tryptophan are necessary for the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Insufficient levels of these neurotransmitters may lead to a decline in mood and heightened feelings of aggression. Adequate intake of these amino acids can be obtained from sources such as animal proteins, quinoa, and soy. Eat a good amount and variety of plant proteins every day, including:

•    Nuts

•    Seeds

•    Beans

•    Whole grains

Selenium and Iodine

Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, is an often-overlooked reason for mild to moderate depression. Your thyroid regulates the metabolic functions in your body. When it’s not working well, you can experience subtle symptoms, including feeling more tired and depressed.

Your thyroid needs enough selenium and iodine to make thyroid hormones. But getting too much of these trace minerals from supplements may be harmful. Try to eat more fish and seafood as most types have both minerals along with healthy omega-3 fats.

Recipe for Winter Wellness

Spinach and Feta Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

To infuse your diet with the essential vitamins needed to combat winter blues, we've crafted a hearty recipe guaranteed to warm both body and soul.



•    4 large Portobello mushrooms

•    2 tablespoons olive oil

•    2 cloves garlic, minced

•    2 cups fresh spinach

•    1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

•    1/4 cup chopped walnuts

•    Salt and pepper to taste

•    Fresh parsley for garnish


1.    Preheat the oven to190°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.    Remove the stems from the Portobello mushrooms and gently scrape out the gills using a spoon.

3.    In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant.

4.    Add fresh spinach to the skillet and cook until wilted.

5.    Remove the skillet from heat and stir in crumbled feta cheese and chopped walnuts. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6.    Spoon the spinach and feta mixture into the cavity of each Portobello mushroom.

7.    Place the stuffed mushrooms on the prepared baking sheet.

8.    Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender.

9.    Garnish with fresh parsley before serving. 

These spinach and feta stuffed Portobello mushrooms are a delicious and hearty option high in vitamin D, omega-3 fats, and selenium, providing a comforting meal for those dealing with depression.


By understanding the vital role that vitamins play in our mental and emotional well-being, we can take proactive steps to support our health, particularly during the autumn and winter seasons. Incorporating Vitamin D-rich foods, along with a variety of B vitamins, into our diets can help alleviate symptoms of depression and boost overall mood.

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