woman eating snack

What to Eat? Everyday Nutrients for Mood-Boosting and Stress Relief

Learn the everyday nutrients to eat for mood-boosting and stress relief in part three of our three-part “mood food” series.


  • Today’s consumers consider mental health to be as important as physical health.
  • Consumers are using nutrition and mood foods to improve their wellbeing.
  • Many of the most important ingredients for mood and stress support are everyday nutrients.

Consumers Focusing on Mood to Support Holistic Wellness

Innova asked consumers globally what aspects they think of when they think of holistic health. Physical and mental health tied as the top answers (at 60% for both),1 indicating just how important mental wellness is becoming to consumers. For those taking steps to improve their mental and emotional wellbeing in the past year, exercise, sleep, and nutrition stood out as the key focus areas.

Over the past year, consumers made changes to their diet/nutrition (28%), chose foods and beverages that helped their mood (24%), and consumed foods and beverages for mental focus or concentration (20%).2 With so many mental wellness ingredients on the market—from functional mushrooms to adaptogenic herbs—it can be easy to forget the everyday nutrients that are also important to mental health and wellbeing.

Everyday Nutrients for Mood and Wellbeing


Magnesium is an essential mineral with many roles in the body. As a cofactor in over three-hundred enzymatic processes, magnesium is involved in nerve and muscle function, energy production, and the synthesis of DNA. Its influence on nerve transmission and regulating stress hormones has led to recent research into its potential to alleviate depression. 40% of global mineral-fortified new products with a brain-mood claim contain magnesium.3 Natural sources of magnesium include nuts, seeds, whole grains, leafy greens, and low-fat dairy.

Vitamin B6

Another of the essential micronutrients needed for brain function, vitamin B6 was featured in 61% of recent global vitamin-fortified new products with brain-mood health positioning.4 Like magnesium, it plays a role in many enzymatic processes throughout the body but is getting special attention for its possible use in regulating mood (for both anxiety and depression). Vitamin B6 is important for the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. Beef, poultry, fish, and starchy vegetables like potatoes all naturally contain vitamin B6.


Vitamin B12

Both brain development and function require vitamin B12, a micronutrient found in foods of animal origin such as meat, eggs, and dairy. This means those on a vegan diet will typically need to supplement with vitamin B12, whether through fortified foods and beverages or supplements. Vitamin B12 is also a cofactor in the production of serotonin and dopamine, which regulate mood, emotions, and sleep.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

As an essential structural component of the developing brain, omega-3 fatty acids (particularly DHA) are popular in infant and children’s nutrition products. But maintaining omega-3 levels in the brain is also important. Current research into omega-3s focuses on the potential effects of supplementation on cognitive functions like memory and abstract reasoning, in addition to healthy mood and sleep. While ALA omega-3s are found in seeds like flaxseed and nut oils, the main EPA and DHA sources are fish and algae. 


Tryptophan is an essential amino acid required to make serotonin and melatonin. While serotonin is a neurotransmitter known to influence mood and sleep, melatonin is primarily associated with regulating the sleep-wake cycle. A variety of foods contain tryptophan, from fish and cheese to fruits and seeds. Since free amino acids are highly insoluble, when fortifying with tryptophan, using an optimized form like PepForm® Tryptophan (with tryptophan attached to a peptide carrier) is important for achieving the best solubility and bioavailability.

protein powder

Getting the Right Nutrient Functionality for Your Application

Looking ahead, we expect foods and beverages formulated to support mental wellbeing will continue to grow to address consumers’ increasing interest. When adding mental wellness nutrients—like vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids, and botanicals—to foods and beverages, choosing the right form for the application will be key.

Our line of TechVantage Functionally Optimized Nutrients was designed to give you the best functionality for your application. TechVantage™ technologies include microencapsulations, granulations and triturations to improve mixing, protect nutrients during heating, mask odors and flavors, and deliver a homogenious blend. See how TechVantage™ can give your brand an edge in fortified and functional products.


1-2. Innova Market Insights, Consumer Insider: Holistic Wellbeing, 2022.
3-4. Innova Market Insights, Trends Insider: Mood Health, 2022. Data is 12 months ending Q1 2022.

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