Did you know that your physical health can greatly influence your mental health? Consider the most physically healthy person you know. Most likely, they enjoy a clear mind, optimistic outlook, and a healthy amount of self-confidence, to boot. When it comes to nutrients for mental health, it’s important to focus on what goes into the body, keeping an eye out for signs of vitamin deficiencies, and being mindful of the many natural brain-enhancing vitamins available to us. Nutrition and mental health have a strong correlation.
It’s no secret that B vitamins are good for the body. They’re game-changers in the mental health field, as well. These miraculous vitamins work synergistically, which is why supplements often contain more than one of the Bs. Vitamin B3 in particular (also known as niacin) has proven to not only treat schizophrenia but to cure it. It helps treat Alzheimer’s and alcoholism by lifting the depression and anxieties that inevitably emerge when faced with these devastating diseases.
Essentially, Vitamin B3 is responsible for turning fat and carbs into fuel for the body. Brain-wise, this miraculous vitamin can promote the production of new blood vessels, treat stroke symptoms, ADHD, memory loss, and a variety of other mental ailments and diseases. When we’re deficient in this important vitamin, we’re likely to experience the “Three Ds” – dementia, diarrhea, and dermatitis. Alarmingly low levels of B3 are somewhat rare in first-world countries, but you should still keep an eye on your vitamin intake to maintain good mental health. Pay attention to persistent canker sores, fatigue, digestive issues, headaches, and depression, which are all common symptoms of a B3 deficiency.
Up your niacin intake by taking an over-the-counter supplement. B vitamins are water-soluble so there is a variety of them available in easy-to-swallow form. Be sure to add B3-rich foods to your meals and snacks, including tuna, turkey, mushrooms, avocado, and liver. It’s very hard to overdose on this particular B vitamin, so there’s no need to be meek with your efforts to incorporate more of it into your diet.
This B vitamin, also known as folic acid, is famous for preventing heart disease and cancer. This powerful vitamin is known to repair cells, boost energy, enhance metabolism, and improve many other vital bodily functions. When improving nutrients for mental health, B9 is the go-to for depression and anxiety treatment.
Those with low levels of this vitamin are likely to experience anemia, pale skin, digestive problems, fatigue, and wonky immune system functions. People who already experience chronic health issues and diseases are more likely to become deficient in Vitamin B9, including alcoholics, kidney patients, and pregnant women.
Folic acid promotes a healthy nervous system, aiding in cognitive functions. To include more of the naturally-occurring type of B9 in your diet, eat plenty of greens, like brussel sprouts, broccoli, avocado, asparagus, and plenty of leafy greens. You can also sip on a green smoothie between meals to boost your daily intake of this DNA-repairing powerhouse of a vitamin!
Vitamin B12 is perhaps the most popular vitamin in the B family when it comes to nutrients for mental health. It is known to benefit the nervous system and treat a variety of conditions. Used as a preventative measure, B12 can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s, and play a huge role in the body’s neurotransmitter signals and nerve functions. Those with B12 deficiencies are known to experience chronic stress and fatigue, depression, and emotional distress. Anxiety, foggy brain, difficulty concentrating, and dementia are other conditions that parallel low-B12 levels, as well.
To promote B12 consumption it’s important to eat a diet that’s fully stocked with high-quality animal products, such as grass-fed beef, eggs, milk, cheese, and other organic dairy products. Fish, crab, and other kinds of seafood are also rich in B12. Keep in mind that B12 works in conjunction with B9, so it is a good idea to take these vitamins in tandem.
Known as a “healthy fat,” Omega 3 is great for heart disease treatment and lowering blood pressure. Its huge impact on the brain cannot be ignored. There is growing evidence that Omega-3s improve the health of neural membranes, treat hyperactivity, depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and mood disorders. Upping fatty acid intake can help relieve postpartum depression, as well.
Interestingly enough, our bodies don’t produce this important fat – it’s up to us to seek out Omega-3 rich foods and dietary supplements. If you’re low in Omega 3s, you’re likely to experience brittle hair and nails, flaky skin, high cholesterol, sleep disorders, difficulty focusing, mood swings, depression, and anxiety.
Increase your consumption of the three major 3s (ALA, DHA, and EPA), by adding more fish, grass-fed beef, nuts, and sea vegetables to your diet. This fatty acid has gained so much recognition for its important role in physical and mental health that it’s now added to many breads, health shakes, dairy products, eggs, and even juices. It’s best to get your omegas from whole foods (rather than processed, canned, or frozen), so stock up on flax seeds, walnuts, and fresh fish! Popping a fish oil capsule daily is another convenient way to stay on top of your omega intake, as well.
Nutrients for mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand. It’s important to make sure that the body is fully equipped with what it needs to function properly on all levels. For some, a plant-based diet and mental health are two areas to explore for more information on brain health. By bringing more mindfulness to the diet and body, you can better identify and treat deficiencies, leading to a fuller, happier and healthier life.