Can Seaweed Help with Depression?

Can Seaweed Help with Depression?

Clinical depression has become increasingly prevalent, and managing depressive symptoms is key to restoring and promoting mental health in order to combat the disorder. And while pharmacological treatment is generally recommended as a primary course of action, there are several natural options to help decrease the frequency and intensity of symptoms and complement a medically prescribed regimen. Seaweed is packed full of vitamins and minerals that support the body by promoting general well-being and mental health, making it an effective natural option for depression relief. 

What causes depression, and how can seaweed help? 

Although depression has a wide variety of causes, it is generally thought to be brought on by a combination of bodily stressors, genetic predisposition, or faulty brain regulation. Reducing the effects of stress on the body is a key component in promoting mental health and decreasing depressive symptoms, and seaweed is a natural way to accomplish this. The following are key nutrients to include in an effective defense against depression, all of which are naturally plentiful in seaweed. 

  • Prebiotics: Research has long shown a link between gut health, diet, and mental health. Stress physically affects your body by causing internal inflammation and worsening symptoms of depression and anxiety. Additionally, your gut is the location of a large portion of your body’s serotonin production, or “happiness” hormone. The prebiotic fibers in seaweed are fermented by the probiotics in your gut in order to stimulate serotonin release. By eating seaweed, you feed the good bacteria in your gut and promote an internal balance that can reduce inflammation and increase serotonin production. 
  • Antioxidants: As we learn more about the causes of depression, research increasingly indicates the role of free radical damage in depression onset. This means that antioxidants, which naturally defend against free radicals, are vital in combatting symptoms and boosting mental health. Fortunately, seaweed is packed with antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals that limit free radical damage. 
  • Magnesium: Magnesium deficiencies have been linked to an increased risk of depression and other mood disorders. Magnesium is a key component in regulating calcium flow through ion channels, and a deficit can impair these vital body functions. However, increasing the intake of magnesium-rich foods such as seaweed can help to provide better neuronal wellness and rapidly improve depressive symptoms. 

Does it really help?

A study published in 2019 by Nutrition Journal evaluated the seaweed intake and instances of depression in 500 Japanese men over three years and found that increased seaweed intake was associated with decreased occurrences of depressive episodes and symptoms. An earlier study published in 2014 found that depressive symptoms were also inversely associated with seaweed consumption in pregnant women in Japan. And, as the popularity of seaweed continues to grow, research consistently backs up these findings. Although depression treatment is complex, nutrient-packed, natural supplements such as seaweed can be utilized in conjunction with pharmacological treatment to promote general bodily wellbeing, provide mental stability, and help protect against depressive symptoms. 

Seaweed is easy to incorporate into a diet. All it takes is a little imagination. Whether you want to roll your favorite ingredients inside of seaweed or use it in a supplement, you’ll get all of these amazing (and surprising) seaweed benefits. 

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