Today research shows the importance of nutrients as being needed as much for mental health as well as physical well-being.
Diets that are high in sugar, fat and processed foods are associated with depression and poor brain health.
Although nutrient supplements have a role in maintaining proper brain function as well as treating psychiatric disorders, a balanced, whole-food diet is even more essential.
Three important minerals, iron, magnesium and zinc, play a pivotal role in neurological functioning.
Iron deficiency is linked to anxiety and depressive symptoms, as well as developmental problems, the reason being its role in transporting oxygen to the brain.
Iron is found in grains, nuts, leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and in higher concentrations in organ meats.
Magnesium is also involved in many brain chemistry reactions, and deficiency is linked to anxiety and depressive symptoms too.
Magnesium is found in whole grains, legumes, leafy green vegetables and soy.
Zinc is an abundant trace element, again involved with brain chemistry reactions and is a key element supporting proper immune function.
Studies show that zinc supplements improve depressed moods, primarily alongside antidepressants. Zince is found in lean meats, oysters, whole grains, seeds and nuts.
Omega-3 supplements have been found to be extremely beneficial for bipolar depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression. It has been found taking these supplements, prevents psychosis.
Polyunsaturated fats have a vital role in neuronal structure and function as well as help in modulating critical aspects of the inflammatory pathways in our bodies.
Omega-3 is found in oysters, seeds and nuts, however the highest concentrations are found in oily fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel.
Amino Acids are known as the building blocks for creating proteins, which help form brain circuitry and brain chemicals.
A few amino acids are precursors and mood modulating chemicals, like Tryptophan, which is needed to create serotonin, (the feel good chemical released by your body).
Some supplements like cysteine, (a Sulphur based amino acid) converts into glutathione, which is one of the body’s strongest antioxidant.
This helps in schizophrenia, trichotillomania and bipolar depression, amongst other addictive behaviors. S-adenosyl methionine or (SAMe), another amino acid based nutrient also has antidepressant qualities.
Amino acids can be found in all sources of protein, mostly in seafood, eggs, buts meats and legumes.
A discussion about nutrition and diet should be one of the starting points when discussing mental health and physical well-being.
The best nutritional advice is to have an unprocessed whole-food diet with judicious use of prescriptive nutrients (as needed) based on advise form mental health professionals.