Supplement Guide for Enhancing Your Mood
In the modern age, there is a lot of focus on our physical health and wellbeing, but not so much on our mental health. However, the reality is that our mental state, attitude and mood all have a profound effect on our overall happiness and quality of life. The mood we are in affects how we feel about just about everything, and can actually have a significant effect on our physical health, as well.
Many people turn to antidepressants and other drugs to help regulate mood and keep a better mind state. On the other hand, there are some more natural antidepressants that can be used, as well as good supplements for enhancing mood. These products can help you have a more positive, upbeat outlook and mood, which can make nearly every task you’re faced with easier, and every experience more enjoyable. Additionally, these natural options tend to have less side effects than pharmaceuticals, which is another added bonus.
How Can Supplements Help Enhance Your Mood?
Some benefits of good mood enhancement supplements include:
- Improves mood
- Improves mental state
- Improves energy levels
- Increases productivity
- Can help to improve happiness & satisfaction
- Balances brain chemicals
- Improves sleep quality
- Improves emotional health
- Helps calm the mind
- Can help to ease anxiety
- Can be used as natural antidepressants in some cases
- Improves overall health
The best mood enhancement supplements tend to help enhance your mood in one of two ways: by fixing a nutritional deficiency that may be causing your poor mood and other related health issues, or by affecting brain chemistry to bring a better balance to your brain (and your life!) We’ll break it down into each category:
Balancing Brain Chemistry
In our brains there are a number of neurotransmitters that help to relay information throughout the body and mind. Several of these neurotransmitters can also have an affect on our mood and mental wellbeing. Some of the most important neurotransmitters include serotonin, which is considered to be the primary chemical responsible for balancing the mood, dopamine, which helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure functions, and melatonin, which controls the sleep/wake cycle and elements of relaxation.
Serotonin, dopamine and melatonin can all have a direct impact on our moods, and therefore, many of the best mood enhancing supplements aim to improve the natural balance of these brain chemicals.
Top supplements for enhancing mood via the balancing of brain chemicals include St. John’s Wort, SAMe, Valerian and others. If you’re wondering how to increase dopamine, or how to increase serotonin, we’ll cover more details on these supplements later on in the guide.
Preventing Nutritional Deficiencies
Many effective supplements for enhancing mood are effective because they prevent or treat a nutritional deficiency that may be causing issues for you. There are many vitamins, minerals and nutrients that have an affect on your mood – so much so that “nutritional psychology” is a new and blossoming field.
Sometimes, when we don’t get enough of key nutrients, the levels of key brain chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine become unbalanced, leading to mood issues and anxiety. Some of the best supplements for enhancing mood in this regard are vitamin D, magnesium, and chromium.
Why Should You Take Mood Enhancing Supplements?
Millions of people around the world suffer from mood disorders, anxiety, mood swings and other mental health issues. In many cases, these issues are caused – at least in part – by a lack of certain nutrients in our diets. Recent clinical studies have confirmed that diet and depression are closely linked, and the bottom line is that the things we eat (and the things we don’t eat enough of) affect both our physical and mental health in profound ways.
If you’re someone who suffers from any sort of mood issue, whether you’ve been diagnosed or not, it is worth speaking with your doctor about the issue. It also may be worth considering looking into natural supplemental options that may help (which, if you’re reading this, you’re already doing!)
There are tons of reasons why you might want to take mood enhancing supplements. Our mood is like the lense we see the world through, and when we are in a better mood, we tend to be happier and ultimately more successful. Having a more positive mood can make everything feel easier and better, while having a negative mood can make even the simplest tasks difficult and unappealing.
Not a Magic Pill
Now, even the best natural mood enhancers are not magic pills that will completely eliminate “bad days” – ups and downs are a natural (and healthy) part of our existence. However, what effective mood enhancement supplements can do is help to even out the bumps, while reducing depressive and anxious thoughts, and improving overall mood levels.
Some of the most effective supplements for enhancing mood could potentially be used to replace or supplement traditional prescription antidepressants, as well. However, if you are currently using ANY form of prescription antidepressant, you should consult with your doctor before beginning any new supplement.
While many of us would like to switch to a good natural antidepressant instead of using pharmaceuticals with more potential side effects, making such a switch without consulting a doctor first could be dangerous. Additionally, some of the best supplements for mood/anxiety can potentially interfere with the effects of pharmaceuticals.
10 Mood Boosting Supplements to Consider
Now that you’ve learned a bit more about this broad category of supplements, it’s time to take a look at the specifics. Below, find the top 10 supplements for enhancing mood!
St. John’s Wort
What is St. John’s Wort?
St. John’s Wort, known formally by its scientific name hypericum perforatum, is a flowering plant native to Europe and parts of Asia. It’s also one of the best supplements for enhancing mood, and is used by millions of people for its antidepressant properties.
It’s been used in various traditional medicines for centuries, and is also commonly used today in the western world. The plant has potent antioxidant properties, as well as some antidepressant properties that make it an easy choice for our list of top supplements for enhancing mood.
How St. John’s Wort Helps Enhance Your Mood
St. John’s Wort offers a number of mood-enhancing properties. Some of the St. John’s Wort benefits include:
- Helps to increase dopamine levels
- Helps to increase serotonin levels
- Helps regulate brain neurotransmitter levels
- Improves mood and reduces mood swings
- Useful for the easing of anxiety, mood swings and other related problems
- Has been shown in clinical trials to be as effective as certain prescription antidepressants
- Perhaps the best mood enhancer supplement overall
St. John’s Wort contains high levels of Hypericin, a compound which is believed to help increase dopamine levels in the brain and body. The theorized reason for this positive effect of dopamine levels is hypericin’s ability to inhibit the enzyme dopamine beta-hydroxylase. A systematic review of over 29 clinical trials on St. John’s Wort concluded that for the treatment of minor to moderate depression, the herb was more effective than placebo, and equally effective when compared with typical prescription antidepressants.
How to Take St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort typically comes in capsule form, and the standard dose is generally 300mg, taken 2-3 times daily. It does not need to be taken with food, although doing so may improve absorption. Do NOT take St. John’s Wort if you are taking prescription antidepressants, as the herb can interact with some pharmaceuticals.
St. John’s Wort Side Effects
In some rare cases, St. John’s Wort can cause some gastrointestinal issues, as well as trouble sleeping, dry mouth, headache and a few others. However, the real concern is that St. John’s Wort can interact with some prescription medicines, including antidepressants, allergy drugs, sedatives and more. If you take any sort of prescription medication, speak with your doctor before beginning using this good supplement for enhancing mood.
What is SAMe?
SAMe, formally known as S-Adenosylmethionine, is a naturally formed molecule that is used in the regulation of chemicals within the body and brain. It can be naturally made in the body, and plays an important role in our health.
Additionally, it can be made in the laboratory, and SAMe has been used as a prescription drug in Italy, Germany, Russia and Spain for several decades. In the U.S., SAMe is available as an over-the-counter dietary supplement.
How SAMe Helps Enhance Your Mood
SAMe has a number of interesting properties that are useful for improving our moods. Some SAMe mood benefits include:
- Involved in the regulation of hormones
- Involved in the regulation and production of brain chemicals/neurotransmitters
- Helps balance serotonin and dopamine levels
- Keeps brain chemistry in balance
- Naturally made in the body, but in insufficient quantities
SAMe is involved in the regulation of hormones and chemicals in the body. Research has shown that SAMe can help regulate and improve abnormal levels of brain chemicals that can lead to depression if left untreated. So, it essentially helps to keep everything in balance. As mentioned, SAMe is naturally made by the body, but in many cases the amount produced is insufficient. SAMe has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression, particularly for those who have not been successful with traditional depression treatments. Therefore, SAMe is one of the good supplements for depression and mood issues that we recommend.
How to Take SAMe
SAMe comes in pill/capsule form, and the typical dose is around 400mg per capsule. You should take the supplement as instructed (which is generally once per day, without food). Although the standard dosage in SAMe products is around 400mg, Examine.com recommends 600-1,200mg per day. Speak with your doctor before using this supplement if you are taking prescription antidepressants.
SAMe Side Effects
When taken as directed, this top mood enhancement supplement does not generally cause side effects, although minor issues like headache, dry mouth, and upset stomach are possible. However, SAMe can potentially interfere with prescription depression medications, so speak with your doctor if you’re currently taking any prescription medications.
Go To: Top 10 SAM-e Supplements
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that is important for a variety of reasons. It helps regulate mood, improves absorption of other key nutrients, supports bone health, and much more. Vitamin D is primarily obtained by the skin’s ability to synthesize the nutrient from direct sunlight exposure.
Therefore, those who work outside and those who live in warm climates tend to get more vitamin D than average. Conversely, those who don’t spend much time outside and/or live in a colder climate are more prone to vitamin D deficiency.
How Vitamin D Helps Enhance Your Mood
Vitamin D has a wide range of benefits, and we often do not get enough of this important nutrient in order to fully experience these effects. Vitamin D benefits include:
- Helps normalize moods
- Helps reduce mood swings
- Helps prevent vitamin D deficiency (deficiency can cause depression and mood issues)
- Helps reduce risk of depression and other serious mental health issues
- Effective at preventing seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
- Regulates dopamine and serotonin levels
- Improves bone health, immune health, brain and nervous system function, and more
- Supports overall health and wellbeing
Vitamin D is one of the top supplements for enhancing mood because it helps to normalize and regulate our moods. Clinical trials have shown that low vitamin D levels are associated with an increased risk of mood disorders and related mental health issues. Conversely, having adequate vitamin D intake is associated with more stable moods, a lower chance of depression, etc.
Additionally, vitamin D can be particularly effective at countering seasonal affective disorder, which is a seasonal (generally winter-time) mood disorder that affects millions of people each year. If you find yourself moody in the winter time, and are wondering how to increase dopamine and serotonin, vitamin D may be just what you need.
How to Take Vitamin D
Vitamin D comes in capsule forms, with a typical dosage of 5,000 IU per capsule/gelcap. It’s generally in the form of vitamin D3, which is the most bioavailable form of the vitamin. It’s best to take vitamin D with meals, ideally with a source of fat since the vitamin is fat-soluble. Examine.com notes that while the official safe upper intake limit is set at 4,000 IU, research suggests the true upper intake limit is around 10,000 IU.
Vitamin D Food Sources
Vitamin D foods include fatty fish (including tuna, mackerel and salmon), beef liver, cheese, and eggs. Additionally, some foods like dairy products, cereals, etc. are fortified with vitamin D.
Vitamin D Side Effects
When taken as directed, vitamin D does not typically cause side effects. Taking too much vitamin D can cause issues like fatigue, sleepiness, headache, nausea, etc.
Go To: Top 10 Vitamin D Supplements
What is Valerian?
Valerian is a herb (scientific name valeriana officinalis) native to Europe and Asia. In supplement form, manufacturers generally use the root of the plant, which is known for its ability to improve sleep patterns, support a positive mood, reduce anxiety, and more. Valerian is one of the strong supplements for enhancing mood that can really help get your mindstate back on track.
How Valerian Helps Enhance Your Mood
Valerian root has had a long history of use in traditional medicine, and for good reason! Valerian benefits include:
- Contains phytochemicals that help to regulate neurochemical levels
- Improves sleep quality (which can lead to better moods!)
- Has mild sedative/relaxative effects
- One of the best supplements for anxiety
- Helps calm the mind
Valerian root contains a number of important phytochemicals, which are responsible for the health benefits of valerian supplements. While primarily used for sleep benefits (which it’s quite effective for), valerian is also useful for improving serotonin levels, which can support your mood and improve satisfaction. In addition, valerian can have mild sedative effects, which make it a good supplement for anxiety.
How to Take Valerian
Valerian comes in pill/capsule form, and also in teas. The standard dose is around 500mg when used at night – if used during the day, 2-3 doses of 200-300mg is more effective. If used as a sleep aid, valerian should be taken around 1 hour before bed. For daytime use, take smaller doses split up at meal times.
Valerian Food Sources
Valerian is not typically included in any foods, except for the root itself. However, you can purchase valerian root teas, if you’re a tea drinker!
Valerian Side Effects
Valerian root does not usually cause side effects, but some issues like headache, upset stomach, vivid dreams, and dry mouth have been reported.
What is Lavender?
Lavender is a common plant that most people will be familiar with. It has a very warm, relaxing and pleasant aroma, which makes it a common addition to scented beauty products, soaps, etc. But what many people don’t realize is that lavender actually has some potent relaxing effects, both when the scent is inhaled and when the herb is taken as a supplement. We consider lavender to be one of the best mood enhancement supplements.
How Lavender Helps Enhance Your Mood
Lavender offers a number of important benefits, including:
- Has anxiety-reducing effects
- Promotes relaxation
- Helps calm the mind
- Non drowsy; can be used during the day
- Can be used in supplement form or in essential oil aromatherapy
- Helps to reduce stress levels
- Perhaps the best supplement for anxiety
Lavender, known by its Latin name of lavandula, has potent anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effects. Whether inhaled through aromatherapy using lavender essential oil, or taken orally through supplements, lavender is well known in both folk medicine and modern clinical research to help the body and mind feel relaxed and at ease. By reducing tension and stress, lavender can help to improve mood stability, and is particularly useful for night time relaxation.
How to Take Lavender
Lavender can be used in a number of ways. It is available in both powdered and liquid supplement form, as well as in essential oils/aromatherapy products. In supplement form, 80-160mg is the typical dosage. It’s also quite commonly used in aromatherapy, which utilizes the essential oil of lavender to create pleasant, relaxing scents. Aromatherapy will require some sort of oil diffuser. It’s also possible to use lavender oil topically, although the effects of this method are less studied.
Lavender Food Sources
Lavender foods are few and far between. The plant is edible, and is occasionally used in baking – however, it would be unlikely to find a food with enough active lavender oil in it to experience any health benefits. It’s best to use lavender supplements.
Lavender Side Effects
One reason that this good supplement for enhancing mood is so popular is that it generally does not cause side effects, unless there is an allergic reaction. Topical application can cause some redness/itchiness, and occasionally lavender can cause constipation, increased appetite and headache when taken orally.
What is L-Theanine?
L-Theanine is an amino acid that is naturally found in green tea. It’s known to support cognitive function, promote relaxation, and improve the mood. This amino acid can take credit for many of the benefits of green tea, which range from improved focus and mental clarity to increased calmness and reduced anxiety. While it is found naturally in tea, it’s also one of the best supplements for enhancing mood when taken in supplement form.
How L-Theanine Helps Enhance Your Mood
L-theanine mood benefits are significant, as are the overall benefits of the amino acid, which include:
- Helps improve sleep quality
- Helps to reduce anxiety and anxious thoughts
- May help to increase serotonin levels
- Helps regulate levels of neurotransmitters
- Naturally found in tea
- Supports cognitive function
- Supports a sense of calm
L-theanine has been shown in clinical trials to help reduce anxiety, improve sleep quality, and may even help to boost serotonin levels. This contributes to the L-theanine mood benefits, because serotonin is the brain chemical most associated with regulating the mood, sleep, libido, and more. By helping to improve natural serotonin levels, while simultaneously reducing anxiety and anxious thoughts, it’s safe to say that L-theanine is a very effective mood enhancement supplement!
How to Take L-Theanine
L-theanine comes in pill/capsule form, with typical recommended doses in the 100-200mg range. For daytime use, L-theanine stacks very well with caffeine, so you might consider taking it around the same time you have a cup of coffee or tea. Theanine can help to even out the rush from caffeine, promoting a sort of calm focus. For use as a sleep enhancer, you can take theanine around 30-45 min before bed.
L-Theanine Food Sources
L-theanine is found almost exclusively in teas from the camellia sinensis family, which includes green tea, black tea, white tea, etc. Generally the L-theanine levels in cups of tea are quite low, compared to dosages studied in clinical trials of the supplemental form.
L-Theanine Side Effects
L-theanine does not generally cause side effects. In rare cases, some may experience dizziness or headache, and long-term use of high doses has been associated with lowering of blood pressure.
What are B Vitamins?
B vitamins are a class of vitamins consisting of B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B12 and folic acid. All eight of these nutrients have unique and important roles to play in the body, but the overarching benefits tend to fall into a few categories: processing food into energy, forming red blood cells, and producing brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine (which contributes to the B vitamin mood benefits).
How B Vitamins Help Enhance Your Mood
B vitamin mood benefits are significant, but really, these nutrients are important to a wide range of bodily functions. Some B vitamin benefits include:
- Helps produce and regulate brain chemicals
- Helps prevent B vitamin deficiency
- May help to improve metabolism and energy levels
- Supports overall health
B vitamins are some of the best mood enhancing supplements for people who may not get enough of these key vitamins on their own. Several of the B vitamins play a role in the production and regulation of brain chemicals and neurotransmitters. So, if you don’t get enough B-vitamins in your diet, you may become deficient and therefore have an imbalance of brain chemistry, which can lead to mood swings, depression, etc. With that said, these are not necessarily strong mood enhancement supplements for those who eat a healthy diet and may already consume adequate quantities of B vitamins.
How to Take B Vitamins
B vitamins come in pill/capsule form. They are available in a B complex, which typically includes all eight of the B vitamins, and they are also available in individual supplements. Unless you specifically know that you have a deficiency in a specific B vitamin, it’s typically advisable to take a B complex (unless otherwise instructed by a doctor). B vitamin dosage varies depending on the makeup of the supplement, so follow the directions contained on the product label.
B Vitamin Food Sources
B vitamin foods include fish, meat, eggs, and dairy. Smaller concentrations are also found in leafy green vegetables, peas and beans. B vitamins are also sometimes added to foods, such as fortified cereals.
B Vitamin Side Effects
When taken as directed, B vitamins don’t typically cause notable side effects. Some people experience gastrointestinal issues, like diarrhea, black stools, constipation or abdominal pain, but these effects are not common.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
What are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are a class of healthy fats that are considered essential, due to the fact that the body cannot make them on its own. We need omega-3s on a daily basis in order to function at our full potential.
Omega 3s have lots of benefits, including lowering blood fat, reducing symptoms of arthritis, supporting muscle growth, and more. Omega 3 products are also some of the best supplements for enhancing mood, because they reduce the risk of depression and help regulate moods.
How Omega-3 Fatty Acids Help Enhance Your Mood
There are many key omega-3 fatty acid benefits, including:
- Lowers risk of depression
- May help to improve mood
- Supports muscle growth
- Helps regulate moods
Omega-3 mood benefits mostly stem from the link between omega-3 intake and depression. In clinical trials, research has shown that people who consume more omega-3 fatty acids tend to have lower rates of depression, mood swings, and anxiety. More research is needed, but omega-3 seems to be a promising natural antidepressant option. Regardless, omega-3 supplements support overall health in a huge number of ways, and being healthier in general can help to improve your mood, as well!
How to Take Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids come in a variety of product types. Fish oil and flax seed oil are the two most common. These supplements are made out of foods that naturally have high concentrations of omega-3s, like fatty fish. To take these supplements, follow the directions on the product labels. It’s best to take these products with food, as well.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid Food Sources
Omega-3 foods include fatty fish, like salmon, mackerel, etc., walnuts, and certain seeds, including flax and chia.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid Side Effects
Omega-3 supplements can cause some minor stomach discomfort, particularly when taken without food. Other than that, the most common side effect is fishy breath (if using fish oil), which can also generally be avoided by taking your dose with a meal.
Go To: Top 10 Krill Supplements
Go To: Top 10 Fish Oil Supplements
What is Magnesium?
Magnesium is a common mineral that is vital for literally hundreds of processes within the body. It plays a role in our sleep patterns, immunity, protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, energy production, and more.
It is an extremely important nutrient, and yet, the majority of us do not consume enough for optimal health on a regular basis. And while magnesium is included in multivitamins, it’s generally still in low amounts, which leads many to take pure magnesium in supplement form.
How Magnesium Helps Enhance Your Mood
Magnesium mood benefits are quite significant, as are the overall benefits of this important mineral. Some key magnesium benefits include:
- Helps improve sleep cycle
- Helps reduce stress
- Helps to stabilize mood
- Helps prevent magnesium deficiency (which is very common)
- Important for muscle and nerve function
- Supports immunity
- Supports overall health
Psychology Today calls Magnesium “the original chill pill”, referring to Magnesium mood benefits such as stress reduction, improved sleep patterns, and better mood control. Supporting the mood is not typically thought of as one of magnesium’s “main” benefits, but we still consider this to be one of the top mood enhancer supplements.
How to Take Magnesium
Magnesium comes in pill/capsule form, and typically dosages run in the 200-400mg per serving range. Magnesium is best absorbed when taken with food, and if possible, it’s best to avoid dairy and other calcium-rich foods around the time you take your magnesium pill, because calcium can interfere with the absorption of magnesium.
Magnesium Food Sources
Magnesium foods include dark leafy greens, like kale and spinach, nuts and seeds, fish, whole grains, beans and lentils, and others. However, it can be difficult to get enough magnesium from diet alone.
Magnesium Side Effects
Magnesium can cause some side effects, primarily gastrointestinal issues like nausea, stomach upset, diarrhea and vomiting. If you notice any side effects, try taking magnesium around meal time to reduce these unwanted effects.
Go To: Top 10 Magnesium Supplements
What is Chromium?
Chromium is a trace mineral that is found in small amounts in some foods in our diet. It’s important to our bodies function, and is primarily used to aid in the digesting of food and in glucose metabolism. If you eat a healthy, balanced diet, it’s likely that you get enough chromium in your diet, but if not, it’s possible you may benefit from adding this good mood enhancer supplement.
How Chromium Helps Enhance Your Mood
Chromium is an important mineral for our bodies and minds. Chromium benefits include:
- Helps improve serotonin production
- Helps improve norepinephrine production
- Assists with balancing brain chemistry
- Improves digestion and metabolism
Chromium mood benefits stem from the minerals ability to improve production of serotonin and norepinephrine, two neurotransmitters related to mood and emotions. This effect tends to be most significant in patients with lower-than-normal chromium levels naturally.
How to Take Chromium
Chromium comes in pill/capsule form, and the recommended dosage can vary widely from product to product. Examine.com recommends 1000mcg per serving, twice per day, although the official government RDA is significantly lower. Chromium should be taken at mealtime, ideally with a carbohydrate-containing meal to aid in absorption.
Chromium Food Sources
Chromium foods include broccoli, grapes, whole wheat, potatoes, and turkey breast. A healthy diet typically will contain the RDA of chromium daily, however, the amounts used in supplement form in clinical trials have typically been much higher.
Chromium Side Effects
There are some potential side effects of chromium when the mineral is taken long-term in supplement form. These include stomach problems, low blood sugar, liver/kidney damage, and more.
There you have it: the best mood enhancer supplements on the market! Also, keep in mind that many of these products work well together, so you might consider trying out multiple options to form good supplement stack for mood enhancement.
If you have any questions about any of the products described here, feel free to ask – and lastly, if you have some time, please feel free to take a minute to explore the rest of our site. You’ll find similar guides just like this one, on nearly every type of supplement there is!
Go To: Top 10 Chromium Supplements