11 Nutrients and Foods That Make You Happy

Updated: December 15, 2023

Happy woman with fresh food

Are you feeling a little blue?

Not to worry! Eating a healthy and nutritionally balanced diet can add a spring to your step. There are plenty of mood enhancing nutrients in the foods that we eat. Foods rich in vitamins, minerals and fatty acids are not only great for your overall health; many boast mood boosting properties that can reduce anxiety and increase happiness.

See if the following nutrients are part of your diet already…

Our Top Mood Boosting Foods and Nutrients

1 – CalciumCalcium is the most abundant mineral in your body and is critical for neurotransmitter release, muscle contraction and healthy bones and teeth. Calcium deficiency can lead to brittle nails, palpitations, osteoporosis and even mood and behavioral disturbances. Research has been conducted to show that calcium supplementation may be effective in alleviating depression associated with PMS symptoms.

RDA for Women: RDA for Men:
19- 50 years old: 1000 mg 19- 70 years old: 1000 mg
51 years and older: 1200 mg 51-71 years: 1000 mg

Sources: Cheese, yogurt, green leafy vegetables such as kale and cabbage, and sesame seeds. For more sources (vegan lists included), see our post on calcium rich foods.

Calcium in Cabbage

2 – Tea: Certain teas can help with focus and improve concentration. A study in the Journal of Nutrition found that an amino acid present in these teas (L-Theanine) may work synergistically with caffeine to elicit an alert state of mind(2).

RDA: The study suggests drinking 5 to 6 cups of tea daily (8 ounces per cup).

Sources: Black, green and oolong tea.

L-Theanine in green tea

3 – Vitamin B6: Studies have associated low levels of vitamin B6 with reduced brain function in the elderly. For instance, the Boston Normative Aging Study found associations between higher concentrations of vitamin B6 and scores on memory tests(3). Deficiency in vitamin B6 can cause confusion, a weakened immune system and depression.

RDA: 1.3 g for adults.

Sources: Chickpeas, pistachios, salmon, and yellowfin tuna.

Vitamin B6 in Pistachios

4 – Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is required for neurological function and red blood cell formation(4). Because of its role in neurological function, vitamin B12 plays a critical role in regulating depression.

RDA: 2.4 mcg for adults.

Sources: Meat, eggs and animal by-products. Vitamin B12 is typically not found in plant-foods although some products like cereals are fortified with vitamin B12. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you may have an increased risk of deficiency.

Vitamin B12 in Meat

5 – Magnesium: Did you know magnesium plays over 300 roles in the human body? Talk about important. Studies show that as many as 80% of us are deficient in this mineral! Magnesium deficiency symptoms include fatigue, irritability and mental confusion.

RDA: 400-420 mg for men, 310-320 mg/day for women.

Sources: Dark leafy greens, bananas, legumes, nuts, and dark chocolate.

Magnesium in Bananas

6 – Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Did you know that our brains are almost 60% fat? This is one of the reasons why omega 3 fatty acids are so important when it comes to our health. DHA is needed for the optimal functioning of our retina and visual cortex. Studies have shown it’s also helpful for macular degeneration, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and menstrual pain.

We’re so impressed by the benefits of omega 3! That’s why we encourage you to check out our new Triple Power Omega 3 Fish Oil, packed full of DHA and EPAs and yummy natural mango flavor!

RDA, according to the American Heart Association:
General health: 2 servings of fatty fish per week
Patients with coronary heart disease: 1000 mg/day
Patients with high triglycerides: 2000 to 4000 mg/day

Sources: Our yummy Triple Power Omega 3 Fish Oil, sardines, anchovies, krill, chia seed oil.

Algaecal Triple Power Omega 3 Fish Oil

7 – Saffron: The spice may reduce PMS symptoms to as much as 50%! One study gave a group of women 30 mg of saffron (15 mg, twice per day) and the other, a placebo. The group who was given the saffron reported relief of PMS symptoms.

RDA: Saffron is typically used as a condiment and therefore, we could not find an RDA.

Sources: Saffron plant.

Dried Saffron

8 – Selenium: Selenium is considered a protective agent against free radicals and is a trace element found in AlgaeCal Plus. Some studies have shown a link between low selenium levels and depression, although further research is needed.

RDA: Adults need 55 mcg.

Sources: Walnuts, brazil nuts.

Selenium in Walnuts

9 – Lauric Acid: Coconut oil contains lauric acid, a medium-length long-chain fatty acid that has been shown to possess antimicrobial properties that help protect you from harmful bacteria and viruses. What’s more, medium-length fatty acids can be turned into “ketone bodies”, which can have therapeutic effects on some brain disorders(5).

RDA: n/a

Source: Virgin coconut oil

Lauric Acid in Coconut Oil

10 – Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency has been linked with depression and mood disorders, especially in women(6). Studies have shown an association between low 25(OH)D levels and higher incidences of mood disorders affecting women.

All the more reason to make sure that you are getting enough Vitamin D, either through your diet or from supplements. In fact, our flagship product AlgaeCal Plus contains 800 IU of Vitamin D3. Additionally, AlgaeCal Plus also contains magnesium, plant-based calcium and selenium.

RDA: 1-70 years old, pregnant or breastfeeding: 600 UI and 71+ years old: 800 IU.

Sources: The sun, fatty fish, mushrooms, beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks.

Vitamin D in Mushrooms

11 – Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate is loaded with polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins, which are organic compounds that function as antioxidants. Research has found that eating dark chocolate, 1.4 ounces to be exact, may reduce stress hormones. Don’t go crazy now! Moderation is key. 

RDA and Source: Buy quality dark chocolate that’s high cocoa content and low sugar. Have a square or two at a time.

Antioxidants in Dark Chocolate

So there you have it! An amazing array of nutrients that can be found in everyday foods that make you happy.

Which of these is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.


  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10763903
  2. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/138/8/1572S.long
  3. Riggs KM, Spiro A, 3rd, Tucker K, Rush D. Relations of vitamin B-12, vitamin B-6, folate, and homocysteine to cognitive performance in the Normative Aging Study. Am J Clin Nutr 1996;63:306-14.
  4. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/
  5. https://authoritynutrition.com/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coconut-oil/
  6. Vitamin D and mood disorders among women: an integrative review. Murphy PK, Wagner CL. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2008 Sep-Oct; 53(5):440-6.

Image Sources:

Article Comments

Add New Comment

Your email address will not be published.

  1. Lowana Chapman

    July 15, 2016 , 7:19 am

    A mood changer for the better is definately helped by dark chocolate..just the thought of a mouthful starts me feeling chirpy.
    That’s all..I’m off for some of it now.

  2. Monica

    July 20, 2016 , 12:57 am

    Haha thanks for sharing, Lowana!

    Hope it was delicious 🙂

    – Monica @ AlgaeCal

This article features advice from our industry experts to give you the best possible info through cutting-edge research.

Lara Pizzorno
MDiv, MA, LMT - Best-selling author of Healthy Bones Healthy You! and Your Bones; Editor of Longevity Medicine Review, and Senior Medical Editor for Integrative Medicine Advisors.,
Dr. Liz Lipski
PhD, CNS, FACN, IFMP, BCHN, LDN - Professor and Director of Academic Development, Nutrition programs in Clinical Nutrition at Maryland University of Integrative Health.,
Dr. Loren Fishman
MD, B.Phil.,(oxon.) - Medical Director of Manhattan Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Founder of the Yoga Injury Prevention Website.,
Prof. Didier Hans
PHD, MBA - Head of Research & Development Center of Bone Diseases, Lausanne University Hospital CHUV, Switzerland,