Five Vitamins That Help Maintain Your Mental Health


Whilst we are beginning to become very aware of how what we eat affects our physical health and wellbeing, we don’t often connect what we eat with how our brain functions.

Just like our organs, our brain needs certain vitamins to function normally – deprive your brain of these for too long and you will start to experience a range of neurological and emotional problems. It is easy to assume that if we’re feeling sad, or low on energy, it must be to do with a situation, or behaviour, rarely do we look to our diet for the solution or prevention.

Yet humans have used natural sources to prevent and cure mental disorders for centuries – and it’s not tales from folklore that back it up – its solid gold science! Take a look at how including these vitamins can have a positive impact on your mental health.

Make Sure You Have Enough B Vitamins

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All of the B vitamins – B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (panthothenic acid), B6 (pyridonxine), B7 (biotin) and B9 (folate) are essential for extracting energy from food, building vital molecules, and regulating the metabolism of neurotransmitters such as serotonin. They have all been found to alleviate the symptoms of depression, stress, and age related mental decline.

Niacin in particular has been found to have positive effects when administered in controlled doses to long-term sufferers of depression and schizophrenia.

Many veggies such as spinach, broccoli, turnips, and beetroot are high in B vitamins. The only exception is B-12, which can only be found in animal products such as fish, meat, milk and eggs. If you are vegan you should consider taking vitamin B-12 supplements.

Selenium

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Selenium is not only great for the immune system – holding one of the most important antioxidants, but also fights inflammation, and supports healthy cognitive function.

Brazil nuts have the highest concentration of selenium than any other food source at 68-91 mcg per nut. That means that you only need one or two nuts to reach your daily selenium requirements of 200mg a day – more than 400mg is considered dangerous, as selenium is toxic in higher doses.

Studies have shown that low selenium levels, particularly in young people, put you at higher risk of depression. Selenium levels which were too high also yielded negative results, whilst in another study pregnant women who had enough selenium in their diet were at lower risk of developing post natal depression.

Vitamin D

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Vitamin D is vital for maintaining our mental health and may contribute towards what we term as the ‘winter blues’ – a drop in our mood over the winter months.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to depression, and other mental illness, so it’s fair to say it’s pretty important that we get enough!

We all know that the best source of our good friend vitamin D is the sun, but unfortunately it’s not always around, especially during the winter months. So if you are not able to soak up the sun’s rays the natural way, then it is important to include it as a supplement in your diet.

You can buy vitamin D supplements from natural remedy shops, pharmacies and supermarkets. A lot of breads, cereals and milks are now fortified with vitamin D to ensure that we’re getting enough of the good stuff.

Magnesium

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Magnesium is important for many different aspects of our health. It activates over 300 different enzyme reactions in the body. It is crucial to nerve transmission, muscle contraction, blood coagulation, energy production, nutrient metabolism and bone and cell formation.

Magnesium is sometimes referred to as the stress antidote. In studies, decreased magnesium levels were shown to increase adrenaline and cortisol, by-products of the “fight or flight” stress reaction.

Studies carried out in Western countries such as the U.S, France and Canada found that at least 50% of the population are deficient in magnesium which can be found in adequate amounts in spinach, kale, chard, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, and almonds. The recommended daily amount is 400- 420 milligrams.

Turmeric

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The root vegetable, turmeric has a whole host of nutritional and health benefits. It contains bioactive compounds with powerful medicinal properties, as well as curcumin – a natural anti-inflammatory compound.

As well as its positive impact on the body, turmeric has been found to be an effective treatment for depression, anxiety, mood swings and ADHD. This is thought to be down to turmeric increasing the bioavailability of DHA – a major structural fat found in the brain that is crucial for its function.

Turmeric can be bought in root form, as a powder to use in curries or soups, or as a tea – so there’s no excuse not to be getting enough!

So whilst I am by no means saying that vitamins alone will prevent, or cure, mental illness – including these things as part of your diet can contribute towards a healthier overall brain functioning, especially when combined with daily exercise.



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