Salmon and Mental Health: What is the connection?
Have you ever heard salmon being referred to as 'brain food'? Salmon is loaded with nutrients that support our brain function and mental health. World Mental Health day falls on Saturday 10th October, a great day to show support for better mental health and wellbeing. So, we are taking a little look into salmon's key nutrients and how they support our mental wellbeing.
A lot of people eat salmon simply because it's so rich in omega-3, an essential source for brain function and development. Researchers have long believed that omega-3 is linked to improvements in mental health as studies have highlighted that taking omega-3 supplements reduced depressive symptoms for people with depression. Do you find yourself forgetting where you left the car keys? Other research has also examined omega-3's impact on memory and suggest that the DHA found in omega-3 helps nerve cells communicate better with each other, meaning you'll have a sharper and stronger memory.
Vitamin D is known as the 'sunshine' vitamin as we primarily absorb this through sun exposure. However, certain foods, like salmon, can also be an excellent source of the nutrient. Whilst vitamin D helps to keep bones strong and healthy, it's also important to a healthy brain function. Low levels of vitamin D are linked to mood disorders and faster cognitive decline, as suggested in several studies. You may have heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder, a mood disorder that tends to occur during darker times of the year when there is little sunshine and a lack of vitamin D levels in the body. Health experts recommend around 600 to 800 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day - a serving of salmon contains around 400 IU!
Much like vitamin D, low levels of vitamin B12 and other B vitamins can have an impact on our mood as these vitamins are responsible for producing certain brain chemicals. Low levels of vitamin B12 can happen because of eating a poor diet. Salmon is a very well-known source of vitamin B12 - a cooked half fillet can contain 208% of the daily value for vitamin B12.
Salmon contains around 20g to 30g of protein, a key nutrient for building and repairing tissues in the body and ultimately keeping our physical and mental energy levels consistent throughout the day. Protein-rich foods can also help reduce the craving for sugary snacks. A high sugar intake can have a number of negative effects on all systems of our body, impacting our physical health, and in turn, our mental health too. Eating salmon will keep you feeling full, energized and is especially great for anyone looking to build more muscle.
Magnesium plays a major role regulating neurotransmitters which send messages throughout the brain and body, helping to calm the nervous system. Studies show that the higher the magnesium, the lower the cortisol, a hormone linked to stress. Ironically, stress rids the body of magnesium, but the body needs it to respond effectively to stress. Consuming salmon is one way to restore magnesium levels. Half a fillet of salmon contains around 53mg of magnesium which is 13% of the recommended daily intake.
Find 'brain food' of the finest quality through Falls of Dochart online shop. At the Falls of Dochart Smokehouse and Scottish Tasting Counter we are guided by two simple principles – to produce and serve the finest whisky smoked salmon. Our salmon are reared in the waters of the Hebrides and the sheltered lochs of north east Scotland. We are committed to sourcing salmon from ethical and sustainable suppliers who adhere to the highest standards of conservation and quality control.