Oysters can keep depression away? How could that possibly work? Actually, it’s simple! In fact, you should get ready to hear more about oysters in health circles, as interest in their health benefits increases.
Oysters are loaded with seven key nutrients that fight depression. In fact, if the body is deficient in any of these seven nutrients, depression may be one of the symptoms that manifests. As a source of all seven, oysters could be thought of as a superfood that can help you directly and naturally replenish these much-needed nutrients – and maybe even provide the boost in mood you’re looking for.
7 Amazing Naturally Antidepressant-Nutrients Found in Oysters
Zinc is a mineral needed for hundreds of metabolic and catabolic reactions in the body. Your immune system especially needs this mineral – and won’t work properly if levels are low. That means you’ll be more susceptible to infections – and infections make white blood cells produce cytokines that can make you depressed.
Zinc also has a role in cell signaling and has a major impact on how hormones work in your body.
A Chinese study found that when zinc was high in a diet, the risk for depression was low. And in another study, researchers found that men with the highest zinc levels in their blood, who had HIV infections, were lowest at risk for developing depression. Additionally, those infected that had the lowest levels of zinc had the most depressive symptoms.
2. Vitamin B12
Although scientists haven’t found an official correlation between vitamin B12 levels and depression in population studies, they did find that if older adults were undernourished overall, there was a greater risk of depression. And researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute have stated that vitamin B12 is essential for the synthesis of neurotransmitters, and that depression is linked to low levels of certain neurotransmitters.
Oysters contain about 7.35 mcg vitamin B12 per serving, an appreciable amount. Clams contain about 84 mcg per 3 ounce serving so you could make oyster-clam soup for a delicious high vitamin B12 meal once a week.
Some studies suggest that the right intake of iron (not too much) in the diet may be linked to a low risk of depression. Iron is important for oxygen transport as well as mitochondrial function. Both of these will affect your energy levels. And low energy levels can certainly make it difficult to stay happy for very long!
Only 6 Eastern oysters will provide almost 4 mg iron; if they’re from the Pacific Ocean, you can expect up to 14.0 mg iron.
4. Omega-3 fats - DHA and EPA (the essential fatty acids in Omega-3’s)
Japanese scientists at the Center for Public Health Science and Keio University School of Medicine found that moderate fish intake of 111 grams per day, with an EPA intake of 307 mg per day and 123 mg DHA per day, may provide plenty of high quality nutrition to prevent a psychiatrist-based diagnosis of major depressive disorder (clinical depression).
In another study the DHA part of the omega-3 fats was associated with reducing the incidence of new depressive episodes by 25.3% over a 5-year follow-up in young Australian women.
Omega-3 fat levels have also been studied in women just prior to giving birth to see if the levels could possibly affect the occurrence of postpartum depression. The Norwegian scientists found that women with low levels of omega-3 and high levels of omega 6 fats were more likely to experience depression 3 months after giving birth.
Oysters contain 500-1,000 mg omega-3 fats per 3 ounce serving size. This could be a great way to replenish those omega-3 fatty acids!
5. Protein and the amino acid tryptophan
Oysters are very protein dense. In fact, 1 cup of oysters contains about 18 grams of protein.
Tryptophan is one of the amino acids in protein. It’s sometimes called "the happy hormone" because it’s linked to the production of serotonin, and higher levels of serotonin is connected to preventing depression. A 3-ounce portion of oysters contains 0.08 grams of tryptophan; about 64% of what you need for the day.
In one UK-Swedish study on proteins rich in tryptophan, women taking a supplement containing 1 gram of tryptophan per day before bed experienced increased feelings of happiness. So natural sources of this great nutrient may contribute to improving your mood.
6. Vitamin D
One 3.5 ounce (100 gm.) serving of wild oysters provides a substantial amount of vitamin D – 320 IU. Canned pink salmon in a 3 ounce portion contains about 465 IU.
One study found that vitamin D supplementation of 50,000 IU per week for 8 weeks was enough to make a big difference in symptoms of depression. You can’t really eat enough oysters to get this amount – but it can’t hurt to boost your vitamin D intake with natural sources of this great mood-boosting vitamin.
Selenium helps your body detoxify from chemicals, preservatives and heavy metals. If your body is accumulating high amounts of these toxins, you could feel noticeably depressed.
Oysters contain 63.7 mcg selenium, very close to the recommended daily amount of 70 mcg in one 3-ounce serving. This can start to make up for long-standing deficiencies of this important mineral.
With seven naturally occurring antidepressant nutrients, it seems oysters are more than a delicious indulgence. Adding them to your diet may benefit not just your palate but your overall happiness!