5 Foods to Combat the Winter Blues

With the cooler temperatures and more time spent indoors, many people experience the so-called ‘winter blues’. The last decade of nutrition research has shown us how much our diet is linked to our mood.  Due to this interconnected relationship, feeling bad can drive us to poor food choices like sugary or carb-heavy processed snacks, which in turn can further deplete mood-boosting nutrients.

Try these 5 foods to help boost your mood and energy levels this season:

1. Folate (B9)

We often hear how important folate is during pregnancy, but it’s also a crucial component of energy, metabolism and mood. A 2017 meta-analysis reviewed studies linking low folate with depression and reported: “Individuals with depression have lower serum levels of folate and dietary folate intake than individuals without depression”.1 In fact the correlation is so strong that folate is often recommended in the treatment of depression.2

Eat these: Leafy greens, beans, lentils, eggs

2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Our brain is largely comprised of fats. Due to this, it should be no surprise that fats are essential to brain health. Omega-3 fatty acids can help by travelling across the blood-brain barrier to directly influence mood-related chemicals, as well as providing an anti-inflammatory effect in the brain. Omega-3’s are comprised of 2 fatty acids – EPA and DHA. EPA is particularly important in combating symptoms of depression.3-4

Eat these: fatty fish like wild-caught salmon, extra-virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil

3. Vitamin D3

The ‘sunshine vitamin’ doesn’t just come from the sun but it also helps bring some sun to your day. There are many vitamin D receptors in our brain, including the hypothalamus, that are linked to neuroendocrine function. Vitamin D3 supplementation is proven to help protect against Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is characterized by feelings of low energy and sadness during winter months.5

Eat this: Vitamin D3 supplement (1000IU/day)

4. Vitamin B12

As the second B-vitamin on our list, lower B12 levels are linked with depression, fatigue, brain fog, weakness and dizziness. B12 deficiency often co-occurs with signs of depression so keeping B12 up helps ward off negative moods.6-7 As B-vitamins are water-soluble, your body can’t store them and it’s important to get enough every day for optimal metabolism, energy, and mood.

Eat these: fish and seafood, meat, eggs, cheese, nutritional yeast

5. Magnesium

Spending more times indoors on electronics during colder weather can cue headaches, sleep problems, cramps, anxiety and heightened stress. With all that, it’s hard to stay vibrant, energetic and positive. Magnesium is the master “chill pill” for our body. It’s needed for our muscles to relax and protects our brain from the effects of stress. Supplementation of magnesium decreased the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorders and depression within 6 weeks.8

Eat these: nuts and seeds, dark leafy vegetables, or try Magnesium Bis-glycinate supplements (500mg/day)

No matter what season, it’s important to eat a balanced diet. Think about your sources of protein, healthy fats, and range of colourful fruit and vegetables. Contact us to learn more about optimizing your diet for your goals including our unique tests to understand what’s going on internally.

Contact us to learn more about how to support your mood, energy and performance for next-level health that lasts all year.


  1. Bender A, Hagan KE, Kingston N. The association of folate and depression: A meta-analysis. J Psychiatr Res. 2017;95:9-18. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2017.07.019
  2. Coppen A, Bolander-Gouaille C. Treatment of depression: time to consider folic acid and vitamin B12. J Psychopharmacol. 2005;19(1):59-65. doi:10.1177/0269881105048899
  3. Liao Y, Xie B, Zhang H, et al. Efficacy of omega-3 PUFAs in depression: A meta-analysis [published correction appears in Transl Psychiatry. 2021 Sep 7;11(1):465]. Transl Psychiatry. 2019;9(1):190. Published 2019 Aug 5. doi:10.1038/s41398-019-0515-5
  4. Mocking RJ, Harmsen I, Assies J, Koeter MW, Ruhé HG, Schene AH. Meta-analysis and meta-regression of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation for major depressive disorder. Transl Psychiatry. 2016;6(3):e756. Published 2016 Mar 15. doi:10.1038/tp.2016.29
  5. Penckofer S, Kouba J, Byrn M, Estwing Ferrans C. Vitamin D and depression: where is all the sunshine?. Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2010;31(6):385-393. doi:10.3109/01612840903437657
  6. Young LM, Pipingas A, White DJ, Gauci S, Scholey A. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of B Vitamin Supplementation on Depressive Symptoms, Anxiety, and Stress: Effects on Healthy and ‘At-Risk’ Individuals. Nutrients. 2019;11(9):2232. Published 2019 Sep 16. doi:10.3390/nu11092232
  7. Syed EU, Wasay M, Awan S. Vitamin B12 supplementation in treating major depressive disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Open Neurol J. 2013;7:44-48. Published 2013 Nov 15. doi:10.2174/1874205X01307010044
  8. Tarleton EK, Littenberg B, MacLean CD, Kennedy AG, Daley C. Role of magnesium supplementation in the treatment of depression: A randomized clinical trial. PLoS One. 2017;12(6):e0180067. Published 2017 Jun 27. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0180067

Rachel Erwin, Nutritionist & Content Writer

Rachel is a Nutritionist with a BSc in Biology and Global Health from the University of Toronto, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Human Nutrition from the University of Ulster. She has counselled and educated clients in Hong Kong, whose health goals ranged from weight loss to detox and hormone balancing. Her love of writing led her to complete ‘Writing in the Sciences’, offered by Stanford University, and since then she has contributed several evidence-based health articles to various publications.

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