Vitamins That Support Mental Well-Being

Updated on September 6th, 2020
vitamins for mental health

There’s nothing therapeutic and better than good mental health. While mental wellness requires healthy lifestyle choices, we don’t realize that making even the minutest of changes, or supplementing some essential minerals and vitamins can help keep your brain happy and healthy.

Like other organs, our brain needs an effective dose of vitamins to function correctly. If you are deficient in vitamins, you will likely experience problems related to your emotional and neurological health.

Research has found that increasing the intake of specific minerals and vitamins can also help manage (and to an extent, cure) mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, control mood swings, and boost your brain health.

  • Vitamin deficiencies can impact psychiatric patients in multiple ways:
  • Mental illness symptoms can result in poor nutrition.
  • Vitamin insufficiency—defined as a subclinical deficiency—may compromise patient recovery.

Deficiencies can play a causative role in mental disorders and aggravate symptoms.While conclusive evidence is still not available, there is no denying that medicines and natural boosters can help make your brain healthy and improve the quality of life.

[Also Read: How Walking can help your Mental Health]

Best Vitamins for Mental Health

Here are the vitamins for mental health :

B vitamins play an essential role in helping the brain produce sufficient levels of the chemicals needed to manage mood and other functions. If someone has low B-vitamins levels and, in particular, B-12, they will be more likely to experience depression symptoms. B-vitamin deficiencies are often found in individuals who have depression.

Even without a particular disorder, it can become increasingly challenging for an individual’s body to absorb sufficient vitamin B-12 as they grow. Depression generally includes symptoms of fatigue, and B-vitamins can help combat that. B-12, specifically, is known for being crucial to minimize fatigue.

Few of the foods that contain adequate levels of B-12 include lean meats, fish, poultry, eggs,  and milk. Some breakfast cereals can be fortified with B-12 as well. B-12 supplementation can be useful if someone is a vegetarian or vegan or may not be getting adequate of the vitamin for some reason.

Other B vitamins for mental health, or vitamins that play a role in brain health include:

1. Vitamin B-3

Also called niacin, Vitamin B-3 is relevant to serotonin production, which is a crucial brain neurotransmitter that helps with the communication amongst brain cells. In people with mental health issues, serotonin levels may be low. If anyone has a deficiency of vitamin B3, they may see a negative impact on their mood.

For instance, with depressive symptoms, a dose of 20 mg of B-3 daily can be useful 

2. Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)

Vitamin B5 deficiency is rare but may lead to depression, fatigue, skin irritation, insomnia,  and tingling and numbness in the feet and hands. [1]

Food sources of vitamin B5 include:

  • Lentils
  • Broccoli
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Cod
  • Whole-wheat bread
  • Tuna
  • Milk
  • Yogurt

3. Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)

Pyridoxine helps the body process amino acids, which are the building blocks of some hormones and proteins. It is needed to make melatonin, serotonin, and dopamine. Many nutritionally oriented physicians believe that most diets do not provide adequate amounts of this vitamin.

Vitamin B6 deficiencies, although very rare, cause skin lesions, impaired immunity, and mental confusion. [2] A marginal deficiency sometimes happens in individuals with moderate-to-severe alcohol use disorder, women using oral contraceptives, and people with kidney failure.

Food sources of vitamin B6 include:

  • Chickpeas
  • Chicken
  • Fish (e.g., salmon, tuna)
  • Cottage cheese
  • Potatoes
  • Squash
  • Non-citrus fruits (e.g., bananas)

4. Vitamin B-9

Folic acid and folate are also known as vitamin B-9. Vitamin B-9 is something pregnant women are prescribed to supplement, and even women who aren’t actively attempting to become pregnant but could be often told to intake it as a supplement.

During pregnancy, vitamin B-9 can help minimize the risk of specific brain-related congenital disorders. This vitamin is also critical for mood regulation because it supports the synthesis of serotonin [3].

[Also Read: Mental Health Challenges Post Covid-19]

Other Natural Vitamins for Depression

Along with the supplements and vitamins listed above, other natural vitamins for mental health may include:

1. Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for the health and function of the brain. Natural sources of Omega-3s include specific fatty fish like salmon, as well as nuts and seeds.

2. Magnesium

As reported by the Nutrition Reviews journal, nearly 50 percent of all adults in the United States experience some kind of magnesium deficiency. This deficiency can cause sleep disorders like constipation, insomnia, and muscle tension.

It can also cause mood disorders and symptoms of depression because magnesium is vital for the production of feel-good hormones in our brain [4].

3. Vitamin C

Supplementing with vitamin C can help improve both cognitive and mood function. Studies have also indicated vitamin C can help reduce symptoms of depression as well as anxiety.

4. Selenium

Selenium is an essential micronutrient that protects the body from the damage caused by certain infections and free radicals. For the brain, too, it assures various benefits.

From reducing inflammation, supplying enough oxygen to the brain, and preventing cell damage, numerous trials have confirmed that adequate selenium levels can considerably lower the chances of prenatal depression and reduce the risk of developing depression.

Supplemented adequately, it can also help deal with some of the high-grade symptoms linked with anxiety [5].

5. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a critical supplement for bone strength but also a healthy brain. According to researchers and doctors, the nutrient has hormone like biochemicals that interact with the brain receptors and help sustain critical functions that pass through the brain.

It also deactivates and activates some enzymes, which reduce inflammation and aid in nerve growth. Vitamin D’s overall goodness minimizes the risk of developing mental illnesses and assures your brain to stay healthy.

Bottom Line

While depression is a real medical condition, it is luckily treatable. Vitamins for depression shouldn’t be used as an alternative for medical treatment, but they can be used in conjunction with professional help to enhance its effectiveness. Nutrition often plays a crucial role not only in physical but also mental health.

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