10 vitamins found in fall foods that fight winter blues

Favorite Fall Foods that help fight winter blues
Favorite Fall Foods that help fight winter blues

For most of my life, I have lived in the south.  Then, in 2007 I moved from Florida to Minnesota. Cue winter. Cue most of the year rarely venturing out of the house and then, only if fully bundled.  Depression set in. At first, I thought it was simply life’s rapid changes. I was going through a bitter divorce and adjusting to being so far away from my family at a time I genuinely needed support.  By summer, I felt a little better, but the winter-blues cycle became an annual thing. Eventually, I developed debilitating migraines. Finally, I was able to link my seasonal moodiness, lethargy, and malaise to SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder.

It’s no surprise, either.  Our bodies need the sun to produce vitamin D, and studies are finding a more significant link between Vitamin D deficiency and depression.  However, Vitamin D isn’t the only vitamin or mineral deficiency linked to mental health or a sense of positive wellbeing.  Since many people,  including myself, have an increased propensity to developing the blues during the fall season, I wanted to share a list of my favorite fall foods that may help chase away those winter blahs. To make it easy for you, I created an infographic. Find the image at the bottom of this post.  Pin it for later.  I also created this printable cheat sheet of favorite fall foods that may help fight blues. Print it and put it on your fridge.

Oh! and don’t be surprised to see many of these fall foods listed more than once! Fall vegetables are nutritional powerhouses!

10 vitamin deficiencies linked to depression and My Favorite Fall Foods that May Help Fight the winter blues

Each subheading below links to my source. Be sure to read the articles if you are curious and want more informaiton.

  1. Vitamin D

    Also known as the sunshine vitamin, the best source of vitamin D remains sunshine. However, sun exposure, especially in colder climates, becomes limited in the fall and winter. Other than fortified foods, such as milk, few options exist – except mushrooms.

    • Mushrooms
  2. Calcium

    In this study, middle-aged women, who ingested higher total calcium reported significantly lower depression scores. Be careful, though.  Too much calcium causes an imbalance with Magnesium – and may cause depression. Look for leafy greens, broccoli, and butternut squash.

    • Broccoli
    • Butternut Squash
    • Cactus Pear
    • Daikon Radish
    • Endive
    • Spinach and leafy greens
    • Swiss Chard
    • Tofu
    • Turnip Greens
  3. Zinc

    It appears that Zinc helps our bodies regulate stress and control inflammation. My fall favorites are squash and pumpkin seeds, but also include leafy greens and these foods:

    • Garlic
    • Hearts of Palm
    • Pomegranate
    • Pumpkin Seeds
    • Radicchio
    • Spinach and leafy greens
    • Squash Seeds
  4. B-Vitamins

    According to Mayo Clinic, “Vitamin B-12 and other B vitamins play a role in producing brain chemicals that affect mood and other brain functions.”  Vitamin B-12 is especially challenging to get from a vegetarian diet, so you may want to find a supplement or eat B-12 fortified foods. However, most b-vitamins seem to play a role in mental well-being. These foods are decent sources of other B-Vitamins.

    • Acorn squash
    • Brussels Sprouts
    • Butternut Squash
    • Cauliflower
    • Daikon Radish
    • Endive
    • Hearts of Palm
    • Jalapeno Peppers
    • Mushrooms
    • Pumpkin
    • Sweet Potatoes
    • Tofu
    • Walnuts
  5. Chromium

    If you crave carbs, be sure to read this study! The study showed a link between insulin-resistance and chromium levels. Scientists concluded saying that Chromium “may be beneficial for patients with atypical depression who also have severe carbohydrate craving.”

    • Apples
    • Broccoli
    • Grapes and Grape Juice
    • Mushrooms
  6. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

    Oily fish, such as salmon, is one of the best sources of Omega-3s, but you can also find those fatty acids in these vegetarian sources.

    • Eggs
    • Tofu
    • Walnuts
  7. Magnesium

    Magnesium and Calcium work together and imbalances my damage neurons. Over-processed food strips magnesium, as does our water treatment methods. Enjoy fall foods like cauliflower, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, and pumpkin!

    • Cactus Pear
    • Cauliflower
    • Endive
    • Ginger Root
    • Globe Artichokes
    • Nuts and seeds
    • Pumpkin
    • Spinach and leafy greens
    • Sunflower seed
    • Sweet Potatoes
    • Swiss Chard
    • Tofu
    • Turnip Greens
    • Winter Squash
  8. Iron

    Iron helps the body rebuild red blood cells and carry oxygen throughout the body. Low iron levels sap energy reserves, causing you to feel tired and run down.  Spinach is one of my favorite high-iron fall foods.

    • Blackeye Peas (and most beans)
    • Daikon Radish
    • Endive
    • Garlic
    • Hearts of Palm
    • Jerusalem Artichokes
    • Lentils
    • Pumpkin
    • Pumpkin Seeds
    • Spinach
    • Tofu
    • White Mushrooms
  9. Folate

    Folate, also known as B9, seems to work with B12 to help fight depression.  In cultures with higher folate intake, lifelong depression cases happen on a much less frequent basis. Look for broccoli, acorn squash, lentils, pumpkin, and green leafy vegetables.

    • Acorn squash
    • Beans, peas, and lentils
    • Broccoli
    • Brussels Sprouts
    • Butter Lettuce
    • Cauliflower
    • Daikon Radish
    • Endive
    • Guava
    • Globe Artichokes
    • Jalapeno Peppers
    • Kohlrabi
    • Nuts and Seeds
    • Pineapple
    • Pumpkin
    • Radicchio
    • Spinach and leafy greens
    • Sunflower seed
  10. Potassium

    The British Journal of Nutrition found that heart patients that followed a low-sodium, high potassium diet fared better emotionally than those on a lower potassium or higher sodium diet.  Look for fall foods like butternut squash (which has more potassium than a banana!), broccoli,

    • Broccoli
    • Brown Mushrooms
    • Butternut Squash
    • Cauliflower
    • Daikon Radish
    • Endive
    • Garlic
    • Ginger Root
    • Globe Artichokes
    • Gooseberries
    • Guava
    • Hearts of Palm
    • Jalapeno Peppers
    • Jerusalem Artichokes
    • Kohlrabi
    • Kumquat
    • Pear
    • Pumpkin
    • Sweet Potatoes
    • Swiss Chard

Please note: I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or an expert by any means. I am just a blogger. This list is a compilation based on my interpretation of research sources available on Google. Each subheading links to the resources I used. Feel free to make your interpretation. Be sure to consult with your family physician or a therapist if you are experiencing depression symptoms. Clinical Depression, a severe disorder, requires a doctor’s care.  This article is not meant to supplant your doctor’s advice, nor does it treat or diagnose any problem. Also, be warned, some vitamins – especially iron – may become toxic in high quantities. Do not take more than the RDA.

Fall foods that may help fight winter blues
Fall foods that may help fight winter blues

The Challenge Accepted

November Fall Favorites Challenge
November Fall Favorites Challenge

This post is part of a challenge. A group of bloggers agreed to blog about our fall favorites and create a project or recipe. I created a printable cheatsheet of Fall foods with depression fighting vitamins. See the other bloggers in this challenge.

  1. Baking in a Tornado – Caramel Topped Apple Spice Bread
  2. The Lieber Family Blog – Fall Decor
  3. Think in English – Fabulous Fall Activity Ideas and Resources for ESL Teachers
  4. Spatulas On Parade – Chocolate Faux Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
  5.  Cluttered Genius – Proven Fall Favorites for Kids
The following two tabs change content below.
Happily married to the love of my life. It's just us, our 5 cats, and our beautiful woods. I'm loving living back in the Florida panhandle being close to family. I love cooking, living a healthy lifestyle, taking care of our cozy home, and trying new things.

We enjoy hosting parties and my husband and I are both avid gamers. You can find me on PS4 as SunshineFlaGirl. We also play tabletop RPGs and eurogames.

Alicia Taylor

Happily married to the love of my life. It's just us, our 5 cats, and our beautiful woods. I'm loving living back in the Florida panhandle being close to family. I love cooking, living a healthy lifestyle, taking care of our cozy home, and trying new things.

We enjoy hosting parties and my husband and I are both avid gamers. You can find me on PS4 as SunshineFlaGirl. We also play tabletop RPGs and eurogames.


  • Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Farro Bowl Recipe

    December 15, 2017 - 2:40 pm

    […] 10 vitamins found in fall foods that fight winter blues […]

  • Julie Syl

    November 16, 2017 - 8:03 am

    I want to taste all those food to fight this winter blues really. This is such a helpful article. So timely indeed.

  • kittyslifestyle

    November 14, 2017 - 2:55 pm

    Wow these are some healthy list of foods… I would definitely love to try it 😀

  • colossalumbrella

    November 12, 2017 - 10:29 pm

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful piece! Much needed since most of us are looking for way to fight depression and stay healthy.

  • Suz

    November 12, 2017 - 7:50 pm

    Wow this is a great list to have for this winter season.

  • LeighAnne Borders

    November 12, 2017 - 7:10 pm

    I really appreciate this blog post. Every winter I tend to go through a depression. This year I’m going to take some of your advice and make sure that I get certain vitamins to help me.

  • Tara Holland

    November 12, 2017 - 11:29 am

    This is a helpful list. My mom tends to suffer from fall depression when the days get shorter and the sun is out a lot less.

  • TheMrsTee

    November 11, 2017 - 10:44 pm

    Awesome List! I had no idea I could get these vitamins through my food! I love taking in what I need without adding a bunch of pills into the mix.

  • Ruth I.

    November 11, 2017 - 11:34 am

    It’s interesting to know that certain food helps fight winter blues. I will need to keep this in mind. Thanks for sharing!

  • duffelbagspouse

    November 11, 2017 - 8:20 am

    This is a great post. It helps you plan meals and get in all your vitamins with out pills. You get what your body needs from the foods you eat, which is always much better than supplements.

  • Yonca

    November 11, 2017 - 5:29 am

    Wonderful list! Spinach is one of my favorite fall/winter veggies too. It ‘s rich in iron which my body needs lately.

  • There Once Was This Girl

    November 10, 2017 - 7:50 pm

    Oh my goodness! I so needed this information! I love that we can use foods to help fight depression!

  • kellyhutchinson37920

    November 10, 2017 - 5:08 pm

    What a wonderful list of foods that can fight those winter blues! I had no idea so many of these foods had such benefits!

  • Sam

    November 10, 2017 - 10:29 am

    I totally need to eat some food with all of these vitamins! I always get down in the winter time!

  • Jason @ TheButlerJournal.com

    November 10, 2017 - 9:52 am

    This is a great resource. I went through the winter blues earlier this year, I will not go through it this winter.

  • miltongohgl

    November 10, 2017 - 3:29 am

    This is a comprehensive and useful reference post! I’m glad some of my favorite foods like tofu are on the list 🙂

  • Aduke Schulist

    November 9, 2017 - 10:29 pm

    I fully believe that God knew what He was doing when he gave each fruit its own season.

  • lavieenmay

    November 9, 2017 - 9:26 pm

    very cool, thanks for sharing! I definitely need my vitamin D during the winter. The sun isn’t out long enough and I’m always indoors for work everyday!

  • Claudia Krusch

    November 9, 2017 - 8:30 pm

    This is such a great list. I will have to keep a copy so I can look back on it. I always take Zinc supplements once the weather gets colder.

  • Amber

    November 9, 2017 - 8:05 pm

    I will keep this in mind, that’s for sure. I hate the winter blues. I enjoy most of the things on your list!

  • Tiffany

    November 9, 2017 - 7:40 pm

    Great post! I need to take a vitamin D supplement and I feel that helps. I agree, the right vegetables and fruit can help you beat the blues. I try to eat everything on your list.

  • thedadvolution

    November 9, 2017 - 7:31 pm

    Great post! I pretty much each everything on the list. I love my vegetables and fruit.

  • angie

    November 9, 2017 - 6:49 pm

    thanks for sharing this list of so many great foods to help fight the blues. I find myself dealing with seasonal depression each year

  • Rabia Lieber (@MamaRabia)

    November 9, 2017 - 1:54 pm

    Thanks for this. I’m not a fan of cold weather and I typically have a hard time emotionally during the Fall and Winter.

  • Brandy (@brandyellen)

    November 9, 2017 - 10:10 am

    As winter approaches, the season that I do get the blues in, I needed this list. Thank you for sharing, going to try to stock up on these items and start focusing on what I eat to help curb those blues from lack of sunlight.

  • Travel Tips

    November 9, 2017 - 9:39 am

    I love veggies so it comes good to me! I’m sure this post will help me out this winter

  • janella2016

    November 9, 2017 - 9:26 am

    This is so helpful especially when you feel like indulging on some foods at least you know theyre pack with vitamins too

  • Courtney

    November 8, 2017 - 9:51 pm

    I’m all about vitamin D & B this time of year!!! I just bought a new bottle of b just last week! Works wonders for the winter blues

  • acupofassamtea

    November 8, 2017 - 8:23 pm

    Great post and very informative. Living in east coast who knows better about depressing winter and food has so much to do with our mind as well as body. This post is a great reference for me.

  • lucicoo

    November 8, 2017 - 6:51 pm

    Really great post and so helpful for the upcoming cooler months. I wouldn’t have thought that pumpkin had so many benefits.

  • Aeryn Lynne

    November 8, 2017 - 3:02 pm

    Thanks so much for the list! I’m always falling *hard* with the winter blues, so I’d like to see if one of these will help keep that depressing anxiety away this year.

  • Parenting Patch (@ParentingPatch)

    November 8, 2017 - 12:24 pm

    I am all about various squashes including pumpkin this time of year! The more colorful the vegetable, the better, right?!

  • Monica

    November 8, 2017 - 11:31 am

    I live on Canada’s east coast and we also deal with some long, brutal, dark winters. I try to get outside as much as possible but sometimes it’s just not feasible. You know, I never knew mushrooms contained Vitamin D! Great list of foods and luckily I like almost everything mentioned and will be sure to include them as often as possible in our winter meals.

    • Alicia Taylor

      November 9, 2017 - 8:15 am

      When I lived in Minnesota, that’s how I felt about the winters there. For 8 months out of the year, we had a 3 feet blanket of snow that NEVER melted. The sky was perpetually gray. Yep. Mushrooms have vitamin D. Chanterelles have more than others, I believe.

  • Shell

    November 8, 2017 - 10:50 am

    These are great tips for helping those who fight depression as winter comes but also I think excellent tips for those who just want to be healthier!

  • Preet@thevelvetlife

    November 8, 2017 - 10:23 am

    So nice I found this post, I really needed this for my fall and winter blues. I know my Vitamin D was very low last time my family doctor tested it. Potassium I am already planning o buy for my cramps.

  • Nicole Emond

    November 8, 2017 - 10:11 am

    YES to zinc! I love garlic and pomegranate so it’s safe to say I’ve got zinc under control!

  • Candy Rachelle

    November 8, 2017 - 8:55 am

    This is such a great list. I will definitely check this out. and share to my friends.

  • Diana Tidswell

    November 8, 2017 - 6:22 am

    What a brilliant tips! This is absolutely I need! I’m glad that you shared it,.

  • thenafranssen

    November 8, 2017 - 6:15 am

    THis is so an important article. Seasonal depression is a real thing, and these could really help!

  • Marie

    November 8, 2017 - 3:55 am

    This is a really helpful list! Thanks for the comprehensive explanations and the examples as well! Would definitely try to take in more of these during the colder seasons.

  • Belinda

    November 8, 2017 - 3:32 am

    This is a super informative post, thank you! And so many yummy foods ! 🙂

  • Ellie Plummer

    November 8, 2017 - 3:12 am

    I’m from the UK so it rains A LOT here. This was super helpful as I will make sure to include more of these foods in my diet, especially as winter starts to kick in.

  • ktmommyscene

    November 8, 2017 - 1:55 am

    All of these sounds so delicious! I love fall weather because it inspires me to cook spicy foods and healthy stir fries. We love squash, potatoes, and fresh green veggies.

  • poojakawatra

    November 8, 2017 - 1:22 am

    This is to good to know and I have heard from my friends who live in a colder places that it is very depressing. Glad to share with them this article.

  • Gluten-Free Spirited (@GFSpirit)

    November 7, 2017 - 10:55 pm

    This is really a very helpful list. Along with seeing a doctor, this could be very beneficial for so many people that battle depression.

  • alainamonster

    November 7, 2017 - 9:55 pm

    I suffer from SAD as well. I see a lot of repeats here .. which is so awesome!

    • Alicia Taylor

      November 8, 2017 - 8:57 am

      Yes. Veggies are vitamin powerhouses!

  • superglammoms

    November 7, 2017 - 9:40 pm

    I am so happy to see that a majority of the food I eat are on the list! Whewww!

  • Shubhada Bhide

    November 7, 2017 - 7:36 pm

    Good to know this information. Vitamins are really important in our body, And those list of foods are our need in our body. I will definitely save this information for my reference of healthy foods we need to eat this season.

  • bestiesnotepad

    November 7, 2017 - 7:24 pm

    Great article!
    I try to eat healthy most of the times and there are some food items here that still need to be added to my diet..thanks for sharing!

  • AnnMarie John

    November 7, 2017 - 6:00 pm

    That’s really good information. I had no idea that you can help fight depression through the food that you’re eating. This is really going to help a lot of people.

  • Ithfifi Williams / IthinityBeauty

    November 7, 2017 - 2:39 pm

    Great advice here! I love to eat healthy 99% of the time but I am seeing things here I don’t eat enough of so I’ve found it really helpful. I am going to try getting more of these goodies into my meals 🙂

  • Sian Lifts Weights

    November 7, 2017 - 1:28 pm

    I am starting to be hit by the november blues now, its a very tough month for me but I will definitely be adding some of these foods to my diet!

  • Monica - NYCTechMommy

    November 7, 2017 - 11:49 am

    Oh I need this! Winter always brings the blues and I am trying really hard to eat much healthier. This is a great resource! Thanks for sharing.

  • Hey Sharonoox

    November 7, 2017 - 11:48 am

    I got hit by November blues last year and it’s awful. Glad to know there’s so many healthy diets that could fight winter blues. I know I’m fully prepared!

  • Tanvi Rastogi

    November 7, 2017 - 9:53 am

    This is such a good resource. I will have to print this out and refer to while grocery shopping 🙂

  • Jacqui Odell

    November 7, 2017 - 9:26 am

    I eat a lot of mushrooms. They are great with so many things!

  • Cia Black

    November 7, 2017 - 9:07 am

    I was never one to know the vitamin intake of foods, just what taste good or not, but I’m glad to see that my family is getting a nice mixture in with their daily meals.

  • keisha1989

    November 7, 2017 - 6:47 am

    I see a lot of foods on here that i really enjoy. I had no idea they could boost moods during the winter. Thanks for sharing this list. i think a lot of people can relate to this post.

    • Alicia Taylor

      November 7, 2017 - 8:51 am

      Yeah – winter blues are pretty prolific. These foods are high in important nutrients. It’s hard to boost vitamin D naturally during the colder months, so I try to boost the others.

  • Louise x (@withlovefromlou)

    November 7, 2017 - 6:35 am

    I’ve just pinned this as I currently have deficiency’s in both magnesium and iron, and I didn’t really know what to eat to help. You couldn’t have written this post at a better time. Thank you 🙂

    Louise x

    • Alicia Taylor

      November 7, 2017 - 8:52 am

      Thanks, Louise. I hope it helps you. If you know you have deficiencies, please be sure to address dietary needs with a doctor. I frequently find myself on the low end of the totem pole in a lot of these.

  • Corinne and Kirsty

    November 7, 2017 - 6:33 am

    I have been so short on potassium and magnesium lately, i need to change that and it is great to know what to eat for that! Such a great guide, this is going to be so useful!

  • acraftymix

    November 6, 2017 - 11:13 pm

    Ah Alicia, I hear you. I’m not a big fan of the cold, dreary months either. I get down right miserable. It’s great to know that there’s a way to help beat the blues in a natural way. Pinning for later

  • Words of a Texas Nerd

    November 6, 2017 - 9:45 pm

    I think it is amazing there are so many natural ways to battle the blues no matter the season. I definitely need to save this list for the next few months.

  • Alecia

    November 6, 2017 - 9:26 pm

    It’s awesome how so many of the foods that help you out mentally in the winter are also foods that can either be grown during the winter or store really well. And I’m happy to take any excuse to eat more winter squash!

  • Karen Eidson

    November 6, 2017 - 7:51 pm

    This is a great list, and a valuable resource. Thanks for doing all the research. I have had to take a prescription vitamin D supplement for the last 5 years.

    • Alicia Taylor

      November 7, 2017 - 8:52 am

      I am glad you found it helpful

  • brandidcrawfordgmailcom

    November 6, 2017 - 6:07 pm

    I love mushrooms and had no idea about the vitamin D. That’s so awesome. This is such an informative post.

  • Cathy

    November 6, 2017 - 5:49 pm

    Winter is definitely tough on my mental health, which is why I always increase my Vitamin D intake. I like the rest of your list, too, because the healing power of food is pretty great!

    • Alicia Taylor

      November 7, 2017 - 8:54 am

      I believe in using a nutritional approach to most things, but usually address it with my doctor first.

  • reesa

    November 6, 2017 - 3:43 pm

    Oh these sound like some of my favorite fall foods! I had no idea they could help fight depression.

    • Alicia Taylor

      November 7, 2017 - 8:55 am

      Full-on depression should be treated by a doctor. However, I don’t know anyone that doesn’t benefit from a healthy diet.

  • Lois Alter Mark

    November 6, 2017 - 2:57 pm

    I will be sending this list to my daughter who lives in Portland, Oregon. Winter is one tough season and I’m grateful for any tips to get through it. Best of luck with the cold days ahead!

    • Alicia Taylor

      November 7, 2017 - 8:56 am

      Thank you – I live in Florida now, so I don’t have as much trouble. Not only do I have more outdoor time, I also have my family. I hope you and your daughter fare well, too.

  • Rebecca Bryant

    November 6, 2017 - 1:43 pm

    This is a great list. Son suffers from depression and if we can help him even a little by changing his diet I’m so in. Printing this for future shopping trip. Also I’ll be waiting for your post on how to combat cold and flu season with food and vitamins.

    • Alicia Taylor

      November 7, 2017 - 8:57 am

      Well, full depression should be treated by a doctor – not just my guide here. I hope your son does well. I’m not sure if I will do a post on cold and flu or not. LOL. When I get the sniffles, I usually start reaching for OTC’s.

  • Ashley (@AshBG)

    November 6, 2017 - 11:04 am

    Glad to see a lot of foods on there that I enjoy! Maybe that’s why I stay pretty happy during the fall and winter 🙂

  • Alicia Taylor

    November 6, 2017 - 9:59 am

    I try to do the same. I usually get a little blue in the winter – not as bad as I did when I lived in Minnesota, though. So, I did some Googling on foods that help with blues and thought I’d share what I found with others. Good nutrition does seem to help me – YMMV.

  • bakinginatornado

    November 6, 2017 - 9:24 am

    I get depressed in the winter too and I am so excited to learn that there are foods that I love that can make a difference. I’m going to work on keeping these foods in my winter diet.

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