Did you know that the absence of some vitamins in your diet can lead to certain mental health problems? It is widely known that vitamins are critical to physical health. It is not as commonly understood that they are also closely linked to mental health, particularly brain health. When your diet is limited and not well balanced, you risk not getting enough variety of vitamins from the foods you consume.
Impacts of Key Vitamins on Mental Health
Because many mental health conditions are the results of certain unhealthy lifestyles and chemical imbalances in the brain, it is likely that vitamin deficiency also plays a role in mental illness. For example, people whose diet lacks Vitamin B complex are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. Vitamin B deficiency also impairs memory function and cognitive abilities, because the brain uses Vitamin B1 to convert glucose into energy.
Lack of green leafy vegetables in the diet can lead to the deficiency of folic acid, which causes fatigue, anxiety, and depression. People with depressive symptoms, particularly women, are sometimes encouraged to take Vitamin B9, a synthetic form of folate, which has folic acid and can help the body make healthy red blood cells.
As an essential nutrient, Vitamin B12 boosts blood oxygen levels, which the body cannot produce on its own. Vitamin B12 deficiency may lead to pernicious anemia—an oxygen-transport problem due to lack of red blood cells. This disorder is associated with mood swings, paranoia, confusion, or even hallucinations. When Vitamin B12 and folate are combined, they can enhance serotonin and dopamine levels, key chemicals in regulating a good mental state.
Vitamin C is a powerful nutrient to help prevent anxiety and depression. The lack of it may cause excess ascorbic acid in the body, leading to neurological damage. In some acute cases, Vitamin C deficiency may cause depression and bipolar disorder.
Another common vitamin deficiency is the lack of Vitamin D, which is important for brain health and the immune system. Because Vitamin D is naturally generated from exposure to sunlight, living in regions that lack sunlight or have long winter months may cause Vitamin D deficiency and, subsequently, depression.
Minerals and Mental Health
Some minerals are closely associated with mental health conditions, too. For example, iodine ensures the energy metabolism of the cerebral cells. When iodine is low in one’s diet, it can lead to cerebral dysfunction. Iron deficiency is also related to attention deficit or hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. Among adults, particularly women, it may lead to fatigue and depression.
People who take medications for mental health conditions may experience a deficiency in certain minerals. For example, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may inhibit the body’s absorption of calcium into bones. Aging people who take SSRIs are at a higher risk of fractures. Magnesium helps regulate the body’s stress response, which is why magnesium is considered to be one of nature’s mood stabilizers. Zinc also plays a role in brain function by helping Vitamin B6 do its job of making feel-good chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine.
The Importance of Nutrition Therapy
There are many different ways to treat mental health problems. Nutrition therapy or dietary intervention can effectively complement medication and psychotherapy by addressing depression and other psychological disorders through supplements or dietary modifications. For people who have lived a lifestyle that has not prioritized healthy and balanced meals, it can be quite difficult to stay on a healthy diet plan. Vitamin deficiency problems can be more acute for those who struggle with eating disorders.
People with mental illnesses such as chronic depression may have a diet that isn’t very nutritious. Nutritional deficiencies can lead to lower levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, or adrenaline, which are associated with depressive moods. For recovery to be sustainable, people need to re-establish good dietary habits. Nutrition-related issues can play a critical role in your ability to manage stress.
Seeking Help from Health Professionals
If you suspect you have a vitamin deficiency that might be contributing to symptoms of depression or other mental health challenges, seek professional help. Your doctor may recommend a blood test to confirm any possible deficiencies. Once you know what kind of nutrient deficiency you may be dealing with, health professionals can discuss a treatment plan by taking a supplement.
Meanwhile, try to make lifestyle modifications so that your dietary intake includes a variety of foods. Do not ignore this part of recovery because the health of your body and mind depends on these nutrients. If you need a higher level of care in this respect, consider working with a nutritional counselor who can provide you with an intervention plan.
Did you know that vitamin deficiency may lead to many health implications, both mental and physical? For people going through addiction recovery, a good diet is essential to supply the body with vitamins and minerals. You may need help from recovery specialists who can offer good nutritional advice. At Laguna Shores Recovery, our team of licensed mental healthcare professionals and therapists can coach and counsel you on what your body and mind need. Most of our staff has been in recovery themselves, so we understand why people develop bad eating habits and can help you instill proper nutritional habits to get you on the right track. Our full medical residential facility also offers a range of treatments, including diagnosis, behavioral therapies, and 12-step programs to help you. Whether you are ready for treatment or want to learn more about how your eating habits can impact your recovery, we can help. Call us at (866) 906-3203.