You wake up with anxiety or an unshakeable cloud of gloom. You might think, “I’m not at my best,” and just brush off these feelings, thinking they’ll pass or that you simply need to get through it.
Fortunately, more of us are taking mental health seriously, sharing our stories and learning what we can do as a society to help those struggling. However, understanding of the importance of vitamins and minerals for our mental health is overlooked.
When we use the term mental health, we’re talking about our emotional, psychological and social well-being. Mental health plays a vital role in every aspect of life.
In any given year, one in five Canadians will personally experience a mental health problem; most of us will know a family member, friend or co-worker who is struggling.
Learning about nutrition’s importance for mental health helps us all. Vitamins and minerals are needed for every process in the brain, including the production of neurotransmitters — chemicals that send the messages from the brain to other parts of the body.
Vitamins and minerals are needed for every process in the brain.
Without the proper levels of neurotransmitters, we are at risk for a wide range of mental health problems. For example, when levels of the “feel good” neurotransmitter, serotonin, are low, it’s harder for our brain to feel happy, calm and fulfilled. In fact, low levels of serotonin have been found in people with depression. The lower the levels, the more severe the depression.
We may need more nutrients for many reasons:
- Lack of sleep
- Drinking alcohol
- Prescription medications
- Not eating enough quality vegetables and fruits
With our busy lives, stress also works against us by depleting key vitamins and minerals. Drinking alcohol or smoking, often relied on to improved one’s mood, further increases our need for nutrients, as do different life stages, such as pregnancy. Prescription medications often interfere with the absorption of minerals and vitamins and increase the amounts of nutrients needed by the body.
Your diet and lifestyle may be putting you at risk for depression. Is there a way to reduce that risk? Yes.
Evidence shows that many vitamins (D, B12, E, folate and niacin), minerals (magnesium, selenium, chromium, lithium and zinc), antioxidants (alpha lipoic acid and N-acetyl cysteine), omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics all play a role in cognition, behaviour and emotions. They’re needed to produce energy in the brain, make neurotransmitters, maintain the health of nerves and protect against oxidation.
At Pure North, we have measured changes in depression and anxiety in 16,000 participants over time and found that after just one year of treatment with broad-spectrum micronutrients, 50 per cent showed significant improvements in depression and anxiety. (See Positive Results, page 6.)
So, yes, at Pure North we believe you can reduce your risk of mental health problems, and we are here to help you do just that.
- Kimball S, et al. 2018. Database analysis of depression and anxiety in a community sample — response to a micronutrient intervention. Nutrients 10:e152.