Vitamins and Mental Health
Vitamin deficiency may not be the first thing you think of when considering the causes of mental illness. Doctors and psychiatrists rarely recommend vitamins for these conditions. But, while vital nutrients are unavailable to the brain, this can manifest in ways mimicking mental illness.
The first line of protection against anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders is a balanced brain. Some vitamins are necessary for the formation of mood-stimulating neurotransmitters, while others provide energy for brain cells or protect them from damage.
We are beginning to realize how our consumption affects our physical health and well-being. However, most of the time we don’t make a connection between the food we eat and the functioning of our brain.
Vitamins And Proper Brain Function
Like any organ, the brain needs certain vitamins to function normally. By depriving the brain of certain vitamins for a long time, an individual is likely to begin to experience several neurological problems. It is often assumed that if we feel sad or low on energy, we have some emotional or behavioral problem. However, people rarely look for a solution or prevention in their diet.
Historically, humans have used natural sources to prevent and cure mental disorders for centuries. And this isn’t some folk tale passed around the fire in some backwater lands in the 17th century. This is based on science!
How about we review some of the vitamins that are essential for regulating proper mental health, and what they do to our noggin (brain).
For a long time, it was thought that the component of vitamin E called alpha-tocopherol was the most important, but another called gamma-tocopherol is the neuroprotective powerhouse!
When consuming foods rich in vitamin E, such as asparagus, almonds, tomatoes, walnuts, or olive oil, you ingest amounts of both alpha and gamma-tocopherol.
Vitamin C is known for its role in the prevention of cancer, colds, or coronary diseases, but it is not as well known for its effects on the brain One study found that vitamin C increases serotonin levels, and consequently improves mood.
Taking Vitamin C is smart, trust me, I bathe in the stuff. Why? Well, vitamin C could make you smarter. Huh!? Yup, you heard that right! Taking vitamin C has been shown to improve memory and cognitive functions, and therefore, improve make you smarted.
Vitamin D is obtained predominantly through solar rays (ultraviolet rays). I love our sun. So getting out in the sun and basking in all its vitamin d-ey glory is super important! Sadly we don’t all live in Bali and sometimes we just can’t get enough of those golden rays. This is even more dangerous in the case of children, in whom vitamin D deficiency can cause, among other things, tooth decay and bone-type malformations. We can find vitamin D in addition to our precious sun, in certain fish, such as salmon or sardines.
Vitamin D when it comes to the brain and optimum mental health (which is why you’re even here) is important for normal brain growth, according to studies, and can prevent multiple sclerosis (MS).
Vitamins alone will not be responsible for preventing or curing mental illness. However, it is true that including foods rich in the above elements as part of your diet can contribute to healthier overall brain function, especially when combined with daily exercise.
As always, knowledge is power, so read a little more about this topic, talk to your friends and acquaintances if they have had experience with vitamins and mental health. We must always continue the conversation around mental health with our close ones and listen to their stories, surely they want to hear yours. Let’s de-stigmatize talking about mental illness, together. Because Mindsmatter!
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