Taking vitamin supplements has long been known to be an excellent way to boost physical health. After all, even if you eat a nutrient-dense diet, there may be some vitamins and minerals you aren't getting, or that you need a bit more of to be at your healthiest.
Many people, for example, take fish oil supplements if they do not consume salmon and other fatty fish on a regular basis. Fish oil has a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, which are proven to support heart health, decrease inflammation, and increase healthy brain function. If you know you don't consume fish at least twice a week, fish oil may be a good supplement to take.
While the benefits of vitamins for physical health are well known, few people are aware that the vitamins and minerals we consume have an impact on our mental health as well. It is almost impossible to separate our brains from our bodies when it comes to health and nutrition.
The two are intricately related; if one is neglected, the other may suffer as a result. Taking vitamins that promote good health can also help with mental wellness and brain function.
Let’s take a look at how increased awareness surrounding mental health means that you should be taking more vitamins and minerals:
How Vitamins Help Mental Health
Certain vitamin deficiencies in our body may cause our organs to weaken and function less adequately. When our organs are not operating properly, we are more susceptible to developing a variety of illnesses and disorders that may have a significant impact on our physical and emotional well-being.
The brain, like any other organ, requires specific nutrients to function properly. Several vitamins and minerals are essential for supporting the body's biochemical activities and promoting the proper functioning of brain cells and neurotransmitter pathways.
A lack of any of these essential nutrients can have a severe influence on both physical and mental health. Micronutrients have a strong effect on the body and provide several health advantages.
There are various natural supplements for mental health that may be beneficial when combined with the right dose and appropriate psychotherapy for many people who are suffering from depression or other mental health conditions.
Vitamins to Take for Mental Health
Depression is a mental illness that affects about 17 million individuals in the United States, and that figure just includes documented cases.
There are many more people suffering from depression who do not seek help. Medications and psychotherapy are commonly used to treat depression. However, some lifestyle adjustments, such as consuming certain vitamins, minerals, and herbs daily, can also help cure and prevent depression.
The following are some common vitamins that are known to improve mental health and brain function:
B vitamins are among the most beneficial vitamins for mental wellness. B vitamins are well-known for their ability to change one's mood. They can help you combat weariness, boost your memory, and think with more clarity.
Deficiencies in B vitamins such as Thiamine (B1), Riboflavin (B2), and B12, can cause anxiety, depression, and irritability.
B12 and folate (B9) are essential vitamins for a healthy neurological system. Vitamin B12 and folate are required for the synthesis of norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine.
Neurotransmitters in the brain such as norepinephrine and serotonin regulate mental behavioral patterns and emotions. Dopamine is another neurotransmitter that contributes to sensations of pleasure, motivation, and accomplishment, as well as stimulating your natural reward center. Low concentrations of either of these substances can cause symptoms of depression.
Eating vitamin B-rich foods and taking daily supplements containing vitamin B may enhance mental health, boost mood, and lessen anxiety and depression. B vitamins can be found in foods such as fish, lean pork or beef, poultry, eggs, whole grains, almonds, and milk.
Vitamin C is one of the most well-known vitamins. Many people are aware of the immune-boosting benefits of vitamin C. Even those of us who are unfamiliar with vitamins and their uses and benefits may take a Vitamin C supplement or drink some orange juice if we begin to feel cold or flu symptoms.
However, not many people are aware that vitamin C is also beneficial to mental wellness. While the relationship between vitamin C and mood may seem surprising, many people who are vitamin C deficient suffer from depression and chronic fatigue. In contrast, even people with average vitamin C levels discovered that taking more vitamin C enhanced their mood and cognitive performance.
Some studies have also suggested that vitamin C can help reduce anxiety symptoms.
Taking vitamin C supplements and eating enough vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables, such as citrus fruits and red peppers, helps improve mood, energy levels, and anxiety. However, if you take vitamin C pills orally, be careful to keep within the 2,000 mg daily limit.
Another excellent natural supplement for mental wellness is vitamin D. Among other things, vitamin D promotes healthy brain function. According to studies, many people who suffer from depression also have lower-than-normal vitamin D levels. Individuals with low amounts of vitamin D in their system, on the other hand, are more prone to suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses than people with normal levels of vitamin D.
For most people, their main source of vitamin D is sunlight. People who live in warm, sunny climates are less prone to suffer from vitamin D deficiency. People who live in northern hemisphere countries where daylight is limited during the winter months, may become deficient in vitamin D.
Vitamin D insufficiency is frequent in patients who have seasonal affective disorder (SAD). If you have more depression symptoms during the months when there is less sunlight, a vitamin D supplement may help you.
Micronutrient and mineral deficiencies are a big concern all over the world, and they can contribute to a variety of health problems, including depression. Zinc levels are quite high in meat, poultry, legumes, dairy, and whole grains.
Zinc is a trace element that is involved in numerous biological and physiological activities, including the immune system, metabolism, and brain growth and development. Low zinc levels have been linked to decreased brain function and other behavioral issues. Taking zinc supplements can help reduce depression symptoms, particularly in women. Zinc has been proven in certain trials to be beneficial in the treatment of ADHD when taken with the appropriate medication. When coupled with magnesium, zinc is extremely beneficial in treating mental health disorders – including depression.
Magnesium is another key element found in the human body that aids in the regulation and relaxation of the neurological system. Magnesium supplementation can help with depression, premenstrual syndrome in women, and hypertension in ADHD children.
Several studies have connected low magnesium levels to depression. While more studies are needed to determine how and why magnesium impacts mental health, one possible explanation is that magnesium modulates gut microorganisms, which are related to the hippocampus. Taking magnesium supplements can aid in the regulation of harmful gut microorganisms that lead to depression symptoms.
Most fish and certain marine algae contain omega-3 fatty acids. They are, however, most commonly found in oily fish such as salmon, herring, and sardines. Scientists began investigating the impact of omega-3 fatty acids on mood disorders after discovering that depression is less frequent in countries that typically consume a diet high in fish.
Fatty acids can easily cross cell membranes and interact with components involved in mood regulation. They also increase cell membrane fluidity and neurotransmitter activity, which all lead to a better mental state.
Get Help for Mental Illness
Everyone is different and may have different ways of managing their mental illness. It is important to remember that you should never try to treat a mental health disorder with vitamins and supplements alone. The most effective way of treating mental illness is to seek professional help, go for psychotherapy, and take supplements as part of an overall healthy lifestyle regime.