Depression and Sugar February 01 2015

The holiday season is considered to be the peak time of depression each year, which is usually attributed to the lack of sunlight in most areas, the stress of shopping for gifts, and attending (or not attending) family and work gatherings. A third factor that I think is equally as important—if not more important for some people—is the fact that sugar intake tends to spike around the holiday season. Here are a few facts to consider regarding sugar:

  • The body requires B vitamins to metabolize sugar. The body also requires B vitamins to make brain hormones such as serotonin—the feel good hormone. Many people find it helpful to take a B vitamin supplement to help brain hormone production during times of eating sugar.
  • In addition to B vitamins, the body also uses up stores of minerals, especially magnesium to metabolize sugar. Magnesium deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies in the United States, and has been linked to mood disorders including depression and anxiety.
  • The average American consumes 125 pounds of processed sugar each year. For most people this is hidden in processed foods and drinks that are also deficient in B vitamins and minerals.
  • Sugar intake during the last trimester of pregnancy and the months following birth may be linked to susceptibility to post-partum depression. To help prevent this, new moms should prioritize healthy fats and protein in their diet and try to curb any sweet cravings with fiber-rich, whole food sweets such as fruit or sweet potatoes.

To help prevent sugar overload during the holiday season, try to limit your overall intake of sweets. If you are invited to bring something to a holiday potluck choose to bring a savory item such as a vegetable platter with dip, deviled eggs, or spinach and artichoke dip!

Jessica Stamm
Jessica is a scientist at heart, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Hood College. Desiring a career in health and wellness, she graduated with a Master’s in Human Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport with subsequent board certification as a CCN. She works with nutritional clients nationwide, teaches corporate wellness programs, and produces educational materials for several nutrition and food-related companies.