Nutrients play lots of roles in our body to maintain overall health, and this must be in your diet to prevent mental illness, reducing the dysfunction induced by internal or external factors.
Vitamins are micronutrients that assist with performing significant functions in our body.
Various studies have shown that diet and nutrition are critical not only for body composition but also significant effects on mood and mental well-being (1)
Lack of nutrients in the body leads to physical changes, but also mental disorders like depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Depression is the most common mental disorder, which affects approximately 20% of the world’s population (2).
What Do Nutrients Do?
Eating a well-maintaining diet (which includes nutrients, vitamins) comes out with many benefits such as:
- Maintain sugar level
- Prevent heart attack
- Increased energy (6)
- Strengthen the bone health
- Keep skin and hair healthy
- Maintain all organ function
- Regulate mood
- Promote gut health
Essential Nutrients That Must In Your Diet To Prevent Mental Illness
According to the study, the most common nutrient deficiency seen in patients with mental disorders is omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B, minerals, and amino acids that are messengers to neurotransmitters (7) (8).
Here are top nutrients which you should include in your diet which include:
Vitamin B9 (Folate)
Folic acid is the synthetic form of water-soluble vitamin B9, also known as folate.
Both folate and folic acid promote neurotransmitters including dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, all of these are essential for good mental function and performance (9).
A study showed that 500 mcg of folic acid increased the effectiveness of the antidepressant medication.
Food that contains vitamin B9 includes:
- Green vegetables
- Citrus fruit (lemons, grapefruit, limes, and several types of oranges)
- Whole grains
- Yeast and nuts
Several vitamin B are cofactors in homocysteine (is a type of amino acid) metabolism, also reducing inflammation caused by high levels of this amino acid (11).
Omega-3 fatty acid
Researchers found that consumption of omega-3 fatty acids from fish and other sources to an increasing trend in the incidence of major depression (12)
Studies evidence shows a link between high fish consumption and low incidence of mental disorders.
In clinical trials, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids prevented cortisol to increase and reducing the symptoms of occupational burnout in a double-blind (13).
Research has also shown that a moderate dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids can slow the age-related MCI and protect against the risk of neurodegenerative dementia (14)
Carbohydrates are naturally occurring polysaccharides and play an important role in the structure and function of an organism (15)
Research has shown that diets low in carbohydrates and high in fats and proteins were allied with a greater risk of mood disorders including anxiety and depression.
Some other studies also suggested no effect between high carbohydrate and high protein intakes and depression (16).
However, A cross-sectional study of Japanese men revealed that neither carbohydrate nor fat intake was allied with depressive symptoms (17).
Here are certain food that is rich in carbohydrates such as:
- Banana, sweet potato
- soft drinks
Research has also shown that calcium is also required to produce serotonin, and as we know that low levels of serotonin lead to depression.
Serotonin level leads to happiness or low mood, and for serotonin production, calcium and tryptophan are both required (25)
Research by Lozoff et al. found that children with severe iron deficiency had a greater risk of anxiety, depression, and attention problems.
Here is some food that is rich in iron which includes:
- Increase vitamin B intake
- Red meat
- Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, swiss chard, collard, and beet greens
- Apple, banana, and pomegranate
A well-known study showed that low selenium and urinary iodine concentration levels may contribute to anxiety and depression development.
Iodine is required for the thyroid hormone, this hormone control metabolism, also pregnant lady should consume this because it plays a role in the baby’s brain, and bone development (29).
Anxiety and depression are also associated with chronic diseases such as thyroid function disorders, and as we know iodine deficiency leads to a thyroid issue (30).
Here is the most common food that is rich in iodine intake these are:
- fish like tuna
- dairy products such as yogurt, cottage cheese, milk
- Iodized salt
- Lima beans
Chronium is an trace mineral may help to keep blood sugar level normal by improving the way the body uses insulin (33).
The most common side effect with chromium supplement are insomnia, tremor, stomach discomfort, vivid drems, nausea, and vomitting.
Another study showed that carnitine and chromium use for 12 weeks on women with PCOS had beneficial effects on mental health parameters.
It has been used for Half a century for bipolar disorder due to its antimanic, antidepressant, and antisuicidal properties (34).
Studies show that lithium can significantly reduce suicide risk, which also helps prevent future manic and depressive episodes (35).
Several studies have shown that lithium has an specific anti-suicidal effect in mood disorder, which also reduce the chance of self-harm (36)
Here are common food that contain Lithium such as:
- Mineral water
- Found in some spices such as nutmerg, coriander seed
Researchers have shown that a magnesium-deficiency diet contributes to the enhancement of anxiety-like behavior.
Here is food that is rich in magnesium such as – green leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and fish.
Several studies indicated that zinc deficiency in the body leads to the most common mental illness called depression (44).
Zinc is a vital micronutrient mineral that is needed for cell division, cell growth, wound healing, breakdown of carbohydrates, also need for a sense of taste and smell
Studies also suggest that also protects the brain cells against the potential damage caused by free radicals.
Here is the most common food that is rich in zinc which includes:
- Nuts like almond, sesame, Pumpkin Seeds, Peanuts, and Walnuts
- Whole grain, and wheat
- Seafood like crab, lobster
- Hemp seeds
- Cocoa powder
A large study review conducted by Dr. David Benton showed that low selenium intake is associated with lower mood.
Selenium is an essential mineral for our body to work properly, which regulates metabolism, and thyroid function also protects our body against oxidative stress.
Another study showed that selenium intake is associated with a low risk of depression (48).
Selenium contain food such as – Brazil nuts, seafoods, and organ meats are the richest food sources of selenium, and cereals and other grains, and dairy products (49)