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According to a new study in teens, higher dietary protein intake improves mood. Adolescent athletes who ate more protein in their diets experienced fewer symptoms of depression.

The study involved 97 adolescent athletes who reported their depressive symptoms before and after a span of 10 months. About three months into the study period, they completed a three-day diary of their typical dietary intake.

The food diaries revealed that, in general, the teens ate fewer healthy fats and carbohydrates than recommended, but more sugar than recommended. Their dietary protein intake met recommendations but was typically lower among females than males. Teens that ate higher amounts of protein were less likely to report depressive symptoms than those with lower intake.

Dietary protein is essential for human health. It provides the building blocks for many biological components, including neurotransmitters in the brain, which play crucial roles in mood, sleep, appetite, and other physiological processes. Although this study did not assess the teens' athletic performance, it’s important to note that protein supports muscle growth and maintenance, ultimately influencing aspects of performance. Learn more about the importance of dietary protein in this episode featuring Dr. Philip Stuart.

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