Can Juicing Help with Anxiety or Depression?

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Anxiety and depression are stress- and mood-related disorders that are common and can be potentially severe (1, 2).

They’re predominantly treated with prescription medication, therapy, or a combination of both. Nevertheless, you may wonder whether there’s a more natural way of managing these conditions.

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This article explores the potential benefits of juicing as a supporting treatment for anxiety and depression.

Effectiveness

Juicing is an effective and convenient way to add more nutrients from fruits and vegetables to your diet. As such, it may help aid anxiety and depression.

Healthy dietary patterns that include higher intakes of whole foods, fruits, and vegetables, along with a limited intake of processed foods, are associated with a lower risk of mood disorders (3, 4).

Researchers believe that vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds from different fruits and vegetables — which you get from many types of juice — may offer protective effects on mental health (4).

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For example, one 3-month study in 27 adults with mood disorders found that including juicing as part of a healthy lifestyle may aid anxiety and depression symptoms (5).

After drinking at least 32 ounces (946 mL) of fruit and vegetable juice per day as part of a multifaceted study protocol including other lifestyle changes, 21 study participants reported improvements in their symptoms. This included better sleep, increased energy levels, and improved memory and concentration (5).

Additionally, evidence suggests that certain vitamins — including magnesium, zinc, and vitamin C — may improve anxiety and depression symptoms. For example, these nutrients may stabilize mood in episodes of mania, feelings of despair, and average heart rate (6, 7, 8).

Still, keep in mind that there’s no one-size-fits-all remedy or treatment when it comes to mental health. Also, be sure to consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns about your treatment.

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Juicing is a simple way to get more nutrients from fruits and vegetables, which may improve symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Beneficial nutrients

Juice is full of nutrients like:

  • antioxidants
  • magnesium
  • B vitamins
  • vitamin C
  • zinc

All of these have shown positive effects on anxiety and depression symptoms (5).

Antioxidants

Anxiety and depression are associated with increased brain oxidative stress. This is a major component of inflammation processes related to depressive- and anxiety-like behaviors (9, 10, 11).

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Oxidative stress occurs when harmful molecules called free radicals build up in your body and damage tissues and cells due to an impaired antioxidant defense system (12).

Interestingly, studies have found that people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) have low antioxidant levels (13).

Thankfully, an antioxidant-rich diet can help remove free radicals and protect against oxidative stress–induced damage in the brain, which may help lessen and prevent depression and anxiety symptoms (9).

What’s more, researchers believe that antioxidants may offer antidepressant effects similar to conventional antidepressants (9).

Magnesium
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Magnesium plays a key role in brain function and mood. In fact, low magnesium diets have been linked with depression and anxiety (6, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18).

There are two potential ways that magnesium has antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects.

First, magnesium deficiency leads to an up-regulated stress system caused by an impairment of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.

The HPA axis plays a big role in your mood, your emotions, and how you react to stress. So, impairing the HPA axis can affect how you process stress. This, in turn, may promote the development of anxiety disorders and depression (6, 15, 16).

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Second, magnesium modulates your serotonergic, noradrenergic, and dopaminergic chemical systems.

These systems affect:

    mood
  • motivation
  • reward

As such, they’re often the target of traditional antidepressant drugs (15, 18).

Combined, this means that magnesium may improve anxiety and depression symptoms by regulating both the HPA axis activity and influencing your brain’s chemical systems.

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Evidence also suggests that magnesium may be an effective therapy when combined with antidepressant drugs (6, 15).

B vitamins

Low levels of vitamins B6, B9, and B12 — or pyridoxine, folate, and cobalamin, respectively — have been linked to a higher risk of depression (19, 20, 21, 22, 23).

These vitamins are involved with the production of serotonin, also known as the happiness hormone. As such, they may have mood-enhancing effects (19, 21).

Plus, their deficiency prevents serotonin from being produced from an amino acid known as homocysteine. This leads to elevated homocysteine levels, which may worsen depression symptoms (19, 21, 22).

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Additionally, low levels of folate are associated with a poor response to antidepressants, whereas taking folate supplements has been shown to improve the response (19, 24).

It’s worth noting, though, that one study observed these beneficial effects only when folate came from natural sources like fruits and vegetables. Folate from fortified foods didn’t appear to offer the same results (25).

Vitamin C

Research has also found an inverse relationship between vitamin C and depression. This means that low levels of the vitamin may increase the risk of depression, while high levels are associated with improved mood (26).

Vitamin C is an antioxidant. That’s why it may combat anxiety, depression, and other stress-related disorders (8, 26).

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Just like magnesium, vitamin C appears to participate in the serotonergic, noradrenergic, and dopaminergic chemical systems. If dysregulated, these systems are believed to contribute to depression (26).

Studies show that supplementing with vitamin C may have antidepressant effects and improve mood (27).

They also suggest that a vitamin C–rich diet may complement traditional medical treatments, especially in treatment-resistant people (8, 27).

Zinc

Zinc is another antioxidant. Zinc deficiency has also been linked to the development of depression-like behaviors, as well as increased severity of anxiety and depression symptoms (7, 28).

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What’s more, human and animal studies show that zinc levels appear to be the lowest in people who don’t respond to antidepressant drugs (18, 28).

Promisingly, supplementing with zinc may improve the efficacy of antidepressant drugs by more than 50% (7, 29, 30).

Juicing can help you increase your intake of antioxidants, magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin C, and zinc, which may reduce anxiety and depression symptoms and improve the efficacy of antidepressant drugs.

Best ingredients

A benefit of juicing is that you can add just about any fruit and vegetable you can think of.

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If you take on juicing to improve anxiety and depression symptoms, opt for ingredients that provide antioxidants, magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin C, and zinc.

Here’s a list of the best fruit and vegetable sources of these nutrients (31, 32, 33, 34):

  • Antioxidants: broccoli, celery, cabbage, beets, kale, berries
  • Magnesium: kale, cabbage, green leafy vegetables
  • B vitamins: broccoli, spinach, cabbage, eggs, low fat milk, yogurt, sunflower seed butter
  • Vitamin C: broccoli, celery, cabbage, kale, bell peppers, zucchini, citrus fruits
  • Zinc: kale, beet greens

Try to mix up these ingredients when preparing your juice to ensure nutrient variety.

Include various fruits and vegetables in your juice to ensure you get the desired nutrients.

The bottom line

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Juicing is an effective and natural way to add more vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds to your diet. This may improve depression and anxiety symptoms.

Increasing your intake of antioxidants, magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin C, and zinc may improve your symptoms or the efficacy of certain prescription medications.

However, keep in mind that juicing is meant to accompany the treatment prescribed by your doctor, not replace it.

Be sure to talk with your doctor before making any dietary changes.


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