The nutritional value of the food you eat has a profound effect on your energy levels and happiness -- a poor diet can make you feel drained and negatively affect your mental health. Several nutrients -- including omega-3 fatty acids -- play a role in helping you feel awake, energized and happy, and following a diet rich in a few key vitamins helps promote good mental health.
The pantothenic acid in your diet helps you feel energized and awake. It helps you produce melatonin, a hormone your brain uses to regulate your natural sleep-and-wake cycle. Changes in your brain's melatonin levels induce sleep when it's dark out and promote alertness when it's light, which helps you feel awake during the day. Pantothenic acid also helps you make acetylcholine, a brain chemical needed for healthy sleep. Though it's rare, pantothenic acid deficiency makes you feel fatigued and also causes difficulty sleeping. Avocados, milk and broccoli all provide beneficial pantothenic acid.
The vitamin B-6 from your diet contributes to good mental health so you feel energized and happy. It helps you synthesize dopamine, a chemical needed for brain communication that's involved in feelings of pleasure. The reward center of the brain, which requires dopamine to function, also plays a role in your emotional well-being, and low dopamine levels might contribute to social anxiety. Abnormal dopamine levels can also contribute to depression. A vitamin B-6 deficiency negatively affects your level of happiness because it can cause depression and irritability. Poultry, potatoes and bananas all increase your vitamin B-6 level.
Folate and Vitamin B-12
Folate and vitamin B-12 help you feel energized and alert. They play a role in red blood cell production, which helps you ensure that your brain can access the oxygen it needs to work. Megaloblastic anemia -- a condition associated with folate and vitamin B-12 deficiency -- also causes fatigue, and low levels of folate or vitamin B-12 correlate with a higher risk of depression. Eat legumes and bread as sources of folate, and reach for meat and dairy for vitamin B-12.
Maintaining healthy vitamin D levels can keep you feeling happy and productive by helping to stave off depression. In addition to its negative effect on your happiness levels, depression can cause you to feel fatigued and drained. Low vitamin D levels are also linked with a higher incidence of depression, according to Medill Reports, published by Northwestern University. Vitamin D also plays a key role in immune function, so it helps you fight off infectious disease that would otherwise leave you feeling fatigued and sick. Moderate sun exposure helps prevent a vitamin D deficiency, and dairy products also boost your intake.