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Action Plan

• Up your intake of essential omega 3 fats

This means eating fish at least twice a week, seeds on most days and supplementing omega 3 fish oils.

The best fish for EPA, the type of omega 3 fat that’s linked with improving mood, are:

Mackerel (1,400mg per 100g/3oz) Herring/kipper (1,000mg) Sardines (1,000mg),fresh tuna (900mg), Anchovy (900mg), Salmon (800mg),Trout  (500mg). Tuna, being high in mercury is best eaten not more than three times a month.

The best seeds are flax seeds and pumpkin seeds. Flax seeds are so small they are best ground and sprinkled on cereal. Alternatively, use flax seed oil, for example in salad dressings. While technically providing omega 3 only about 5% of the type of omega 3 (alpha linolenic acid) in these seeds is converted in your body into EPA.

When supplementing omega 3 fish oils you are aiming for about 1,000mg of EPA a day for a mood boosting effect. That means supplementing a concentrated Omega 3 Fish Oil capsule providing 500mg, once or twice a day and eating a serving of any of the above fish three times a week.

• Check your homocysteine level and get enough B vitamins

Your homocysteine level is an indicator of your B vitamin needs. , You can be tested through your GP or using a home test kit If your level is above 9mmol/l take a combined ‘homocysteine’ supplement of  B2, B6, B12, folic acid, zinc, and TMG, providing at least 400mcg of folic acid, 250mcg of B12 and 20mg of B6. If your homocysteine score is above 15mmol/l double this amount. Also eat B vitamin rich whole foods – whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. Folic acid is particularly rich in green vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds,  while B12 is only found in animal foods – meat, fish, eggs and dairy produce. A good starting point is also to supplement a multivitamin providing optimal levels of B vitamins, which means 25mg-50mg of B1, B2, B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine) and at least 100mcg of folic acid and 10mcg of B12 and biotin.

• Consider supplementing the amino acid 5-HTP

Most of the effective studies used 300mg of 5-HTP, however we ideally recommend testing if you are low in serotonin with a platelet serotonin test and starting with 100mg, or 50mg twice a day. 5-HTP is best absorbed either on an empty stomach or, ideally, with a carbohydrate snack such as a piece of fruit or an oatcake. Otherwise, make sure you eat enough protein from beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, fish, eggs and meat, which are all high in tryptophan. Do not take 5-HTP if you are currently taking an anti-depressant without your doctor’s permission.

• Avoid or reduce caffeine, sugar, refined carbohydrates and alcohol

Eating a diet that will stabilise your blood sugar (known as the Low GL diet)

• Consider supplementing chromium

If you suffer from ‘atypical depression’ (see above) studies show that 600mcg of chromium a day is effective. Supplements generally come in 200mcg pills. Take two with breakfast and one with lunch. If this works, after a month reduce to one with breakfast and one with lunch. If this works, reduce to one with breakfast after a further month. Don’t take chromium in the evening as it can be stimulating