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Supplements to Combat Depression

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According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression, one of the most common mental disorders in the United States, affects nearly 1 in 10 adults. Depression can hit at any stage of your life, regardless of your age. The trigger could be life circumstances, genetics, hormonal fluctuations, environmental conditions or a variety of other medical issues. The good news is that depression is treatable. If you suspect that you or a loved one suffer from depression, consult your doctor to plan the best course of treatment. A doctor can help you discern if medication, therapy or other resources would be helpful. Completing this survey by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, or another like it, may help your doctor evaluate your symptoms.

Many effective tools fight against depression and research is constantly expanding to better understand how supplements can be an asset in this battle. Below, several common supplements used to help treat depression are listed. Consider the science behind these supplements as you continue to strive for a healthier, happier you.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Several clinical studies support the positive effect of omega-3 fatty acids on various psychiatric disorders, most notably depression, but also bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Omega-3 is naturally found in fish such as salmon, sardines, trout and halibut. The average American does not consume the recommended amount of omega-3 through their diet. Some researchers have found cultures that consume higher levels of these types of seafood (and therefore more omega-3) have lower overall levels of depression. Cooper Complete Advanced Omega-3 contains 1,200 IU EPA/DHA per serving of two softgels. If you are taking a prescription antidepressant, talk to your doctor about adding omega-3 as evidence has shown it may boost the effects of the medicine. Researchers are continuing to investigate how omega-3 effects brain health. A nice bonus is omega-3 also has major benefits to promote heart health and fight inflammation.

Vitamin D

Known as the “sunshine vitamin,” we absorb vitamin D though sun exposure as well as consuming it in foods such as fish, eggs and fortified milk. However, it is difficult to acquire enough vitamin D through sunlight and diet alone. Cooper Clinic recommends a daily baseline of 2,000 IU of vitamin D, which is the amount found in all Cooper Complete multivitamins. A simple blood test will show if you need more than 2,000 IU per day to obtain a healthy level. For those who do need higher levels, Cooper Complete Vitamin D softgels contain 1,000 IU.

With regards to mental health, a study involving 441 obese patients found taking additional vitamin D improved overall depressive symptoms.  Other studies have shown that taking 400-800 IU daily helped improve depressive symptoms associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Mood changes often synchronize with the seasons as anxiety and depression tend to increase during the winter months. In another study, UT Southwestern and The Cooper Institute researchers examined records of 12,600 patients seen between 2006 and 2010 at Cooper Clinic, and found higher vitamin D levels were associated with a significantly decreased risk of current depression, particularly among people with a prior history of depression. Click here to read more about the findings.

St. John’s Wort

St. John’s wort is a perennial herb that grows naturally in much of the world (“wort” is an Old English word for “plant”). Its history in treating emotional disorders dates back to the Middle Ages, and today it is commonly used to treat depression worldwide. The overall body of research has been favorable for mild to moderate depression. The standard dose of St. John’s wort is 300 mg, three times per day. It takes four weeks to experience the full effectiveness of the supplement. As with all supplements, it is important to consult your doctor before taking St. John’s wort. There are many known interactions between St. John’s wort and other medications including certain antidepressants and birth control.  


SAMe (pronounced samm-ee) is short for S-adenosylmethionine, which is a chemical produced by the body. The research in favor of SAMe as a treatment for depression is not definitive, but it is certainly encouraging. Several double-blind placebo-controlled studies found SAMe effective in relieving depression, but there is some question as to the size and validity of these studies. There has been significant research showing its ability to increase the response rate of antidepressants when taken in conjunction with SAMe.  A typical full dose of SAMe is 400 mg taken 3 to 4 times per day. If this dosage yields favorable results for your depression, take it for a few weeks then start backing down the amount. As little as 200 mg twice daily may suffice once the initial dose has helped relieve symptoms. There is also a substantial amount of evidence that SAMe can help with osteoarthritis as one ages.


While exercise is not a supplement per se, we would be remiss to exclude it. There is an overwhelming amount of research proving exercise is an effective tool against depression with The Cooper Institute performing extensive research in this area. Not only does exercise help manage the symptoms of depression and anxiety, but people who are fitter have less depressive symptoms long term. In fact, even those who do not struggle with clinical depression have reported greater emotional well-being with regular exercise. This study conducted by The Cooper Institute provides more information about the benefits of exercise on mental health.

For more information about omega-3, vitamin D and our entire line of Cooper Complete supplements, visit or call 888.393.2221.

Article provided by Cooper Complete.