Protein

Protein (meat, poultry, fish eggs, cheese, nuts, legumes) can play a role in mood regulation. During the postpartum period, women should ensure that they are consuming an adequate amounts of protein, especially as a full complement of the essential amino acids. While protein intake in pregnancies of women who are consuming a full range of foods is generally not a concern (see Chap. 1, "Nutrient Recommendations and Dietary Guidelines for Pregnant Women"), women who are depressed may not be eating normally. Women who are breastfeeding should pay particular attention to their protein intake, as protein needs are the same as during pregnancy. A full complement of all the essential amino acids will help ensure the synthesis of neurotransmitters. As reviewed in the section on neurotransmitters, the amino acids can have a direct impact on neurotransmission. Glutamate, aspartate, GABA, and glycine can be excitatory or inhibitory with respect to neurotransmission depending upon the amino acid of interest. The essential amino acid tryptophan stimulates the production of serotonin, which plays an important role in the regulation of anger, aggression, body temperature, mood, sleep, sexuality and appetite.

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