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A Doctor's Favorite Foods to Boost Your Mood

Have you ever eaten pineapple without a smile on your face?

Yes, while pineapple is delicious and often paired with happy food experiences, pineapple also contains serotonin — one of our brain’s feel good hormones.

That’s right… foods contain the very nutrients and chemicals that help boost our mood!

 

I love talking about the concept of good mood foods.

Good mood foods are foods that contain essential nutrients or compounds that help to promote a healthy mood by impacting our brain’s feel good neurotransmitters.

These include:

  • Vitamins and minerals that support brain function

  • Amino acids

  • Foods that contain serotonin

Here are some of my favorite categories of good mood foods.

 

B-Vitamins

B-vitamins help produce our feel-good brain neurotransmitters and help to promote energy production. Energy levels can also impact overall mood!

 

B-Vitamin Rich Foods:

  • B1 – fish, nuts, seeds, beans, asparagus, squash, whole grains (in the germ of the grain)

  • B2 – dairy, eggs, poultry, fish, tomato, kidney beans, artichoke, sweet potatoes

  • B3 – meat, poultry, fish, whole grains, avocado, mushroom, potatoes

  • B5 – meat, poultry, mushrooms, avocado, sunflower seeds, dairy, lentils

  • B6 – Meat, poultry, fish, potato, eggs, carrot, spinach, sweet potato, bananas

  • Biotin (B7) – egg yolk, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, bananas, broccoli, avocados

  • Folate (B9) – leafy greens, sunflower seeds, beans, asparagus, beets, broccoli, whole grains

  • B12 – Animal foods only! Meat, seafood, poultry, dairy, eggs

    For plant-based eaters, consider nutritional yeast and a supplement containing B12 and folate!

 

Magnesium

Magnesium helps induce relaxation and feelings of calm. Magnesium is also required for the production of serotonin and dopamine.

Magnesium-rich foods: dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, beans, dark chocolate (cacao), avocado, bananas, fish

Epsom Salt Baths: Soaking in epsom salt for 15-20 minutes can help with boosting magnesium levels in the body.

 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D has been associated with better mood and overall brain health. Deficiencies in Vitamin D have been linked with depression and other mood disorders.

Vitamin D-rich foods: Salmon and sardines, beef liver, fortified sources (eg. dairy, soy products, cereals, egg yolks, mushrooms (only grown in UV light)

The sun: 10-15 minutes per day on the hands and face, without sunscreen! Keep in mind that the sun is not strong enough in northern parts of US between October and May for our body to produce Vitamin D. Therefore, supplementation is often recommended!

 

Omega-3’s

Omega 3’s help to support the brain structure and function, reduce inflammation, and improve nerve transmission.

Omega-3 Rich Foods: Salmon and other wild-caught fish, shellfish

Plant-based sources: Algae oil, seaweed, flaxseed, edamame, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts

 

Serotonin-boosting foods:

Serotonin production requires an amino acid, tryptophan (yes, the same tryptophan that you know is found in turkey!).

Foods rich in tryptophan: salmon, eggs, turkey, chicken, tofu (organic)

Foods containing serotonin: pineapple, kiwi, chinese cabbage, peppers, tomato, spinach, hazelnuts

 

Dopamine-boosting foods:

Dopamine production requires the amino acid L-tyrosine.

Foods containing L-tyrosine: salmon, eggs, almonds, avocados, beets, dark chocolate, green tea, oats, lima beans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, watermelon, probiotic-rich dairy products (like kefir)

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