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Nutrition for mental health

Posted on 03-09-16 in Health and Wellness, Recovery

Nutrition for mental health

In the documentary “Super Size Me,” Morgan Spurlock set out to investigate how his diet impacted his physical and mental health. So for a month, Spurlock ate McDonald’s food thrice a day and absolutely nothing else. All this while, he constrained his physical activity to the national average as well. Needless to say, the detrimental effect on Spurlock’s health was severe.

He excessively gained weight as his cholesterol and blood pressure shot up. Even more alarming was the toll his diet took on his mental health. Half way through the month, Spurlock was complaining of massive headaches, lack of energy and the most depressed mood he had ever experienced in his life.

The past several years have witnessed a continuous nutritional corrosion of the American diet. As life became fast-paced, our dependence on convenient and fast foods, packed with sugars, refined carbs and empty calories also increased. At the same time, approximately 1 in 5 adults in America, 43.8 million people, experience mental illness in a given year. The connection might be stronger than one expects.

The “food-mood connection”

A distinguished facet of the diets of patients suffering from mental issues is the severe deficiency of nutrients such as Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, amino acids and minerals. Research has indicated significant effectiveness of incorporating daily vital nutrient supplements in treating patients’ symptoms.


A quality protein diet includes all vital amino acids that exert significant influence over brain function and mental health. Many neurotransmitters in the brain consist of amino acids. A lack of amino acids can lead to inadequate synthesis of important neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, associated with low and aggressive moods. However, excess amino acids can result in brain damage and mental retardation.

Omega-3 fatty acids

About 50 percent of the gray matter in our brains consists of polyunsaturated fatty acids. They cannot be synthesized and have to be acquired through diet. Various studies have revealed a disrupted neural function in individuals with diets lacking omega-3.


  • B-complex. According to a study from Neuropsychobiology, nine vitamins provided in surplus of dietary recommendation for a year enhanced mood in both men and women. This improvement in mood was particularly linked to the increased vitamin B2 and B6 status.
  • Vitamin B12. Research indicates timely administration of Vitamin B12 can hold up the initiation of symptoms of dementia and blood abnormalities. Adolescents with a borderline level of vitamin B12 deficiency may face signs of cognitive alterations.
  • Folate. Patients with depression have been noticed to have about 25 percent lower levels of blood folate levels than normal. Low levels of folate have also been attributed to poor results with antidepressant therapy.


  • Calcium. Recent studies show selective serotonin uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) restrict calcium from being absorbed into bones and lower blood pressure, raising susceptibility of fractures.
  • Iron. Iron deficiency is critical for fetal IQ development and is also found in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Iron deficiency anemia is also linked to lethargy, depression and profound fatigue.
  • Zinc. Several studies have shown that zinc levels to be lower in those battling clinical depression. Oral zinc has also been proven to influence the efficacy of antidepressant therapy.

It is worth giving some serious attention to our nutritional status and supplementation, especially when dealing with mental illness. Sovereign Health is a leading behavioral health treatment provider, devoted to the provision of evidence-based treatment for substance abuse disorder and mental illness. Our holistic approach encompasses all aspects of a patient’s health including nutrition. If you or a loved one is currently struggling to regain control of your life, call us right away.

About the author

Sana Ahmed is a staff writer for Sovereign Health Group. A journalist and social media savvy content developer with extensive research, print and on-air interview skills, Sana has previously worked as an editor for a business magazine and been an on-air news broadcaster. She writes to share the amazing developments from the mental health world and unsuccessfully attempts to diagnose her friends and family. For more information and other inquiries about this article, contact the author at