Can Vitamins Help Improve Your Mental Health?
The Best Vitamins & Supplements for Mental Health
Many people with mental health conditions look for a range of complementary treatments that could help to improve their well being — not surprising when you consider how devastating poor mental health can be.
As your nutrition plays a huge part in your health as a whole, you may have considered taking vitamins or supplements to support your mental wellbeing, but how do you know which to take?
We’re going to take a look at some of the most common mental health conditions and whether there are any supplements on the market that could help improve your mood.
Which vitamins help with depression?
At the moment, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that supplements can help to relieve depression.
However, if you’ve ever dealt with depression you’ll know that staying physically healthy can be half the battle, as this condition can lead to a decline in your physical health, especially in more serious cases.
While we all enjoy a duvet day every once in a while, depression causes a sense of apathy that runs much deeper and if you find that you’re eating more junk food and spending less time being active because of your depression, it will take a toll on your physical health over time.
As well as this, there is plenty of evidence to support a link between your food and your mood, so healthy eating is an essential part of a good depression recovery plan.
Although vitamins and food supplements are not meant to be used as a replacement for a healthy, balanced diet, they can at least help you to be sure that you’re getting the nutrients your body needs most when you’re going through a bad patch with your mental health and are taking steps towards getting better.
Can probiotics cure anxiety?
Recent studies have shown that there may be a link between probiotics and anxiety and depression, but at this point, there isn’t enough evidence to say for sure.
Probiotics are a type of live bacteria that are also known as “friendly bacteria”, especially in adverts for those healthy yoghurt drinks that are always on TV.
While good bacteria are a part of your body’s natural ecosystem (although I’d rather not think about how we’re all covered in bacteria all the time!), the probiotics sold in shops can be wildly different from one another.
This means that it can be hard to tell how they’ll affect you, and different products could even affect you differently.
Not only that, but probiotics can have side effects if they don’t agree with you, so that’s another aspect you’ll need to consider if you’ve never taken probiotics before.
While some people swear by probiotics, remember that your mileage may vary and that there’s no guarantee that they’ll help with a specific condition, especially mental health conditions like anxiety.
Can supplements help to boost my brain health and memory?
It could be argued that all nutrients help to keep your brain at its best, healthy body healthy mind after all, but if you’re looking for something more specific you may consider omega-3.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish and, therefore, can be found in cod liver oil as well as other supplements.
This nutrient is made in your body and is found in your cell membranes, where it helps to keep your cells protected.
Because of this, it’s thought to help support your brain health and your memory as well as other functions in your body, although evidence to support this is currently thin on the ground.
That being said, cod liver oil is also full of vitamin A, so if you’re a big fan of that supplement or like eating oily fish, you’re still getting some good nutrition out of it.
Will vitamin D improve my mental health?
Vitamin D isn’t a mental health get out of jail free card, but it could be related to a certain mental health condition - Seasonal Affective Disorder.
SAD is a mental health condition that means that you suffer from depression during certain months of the year, usually during winter.
As it usually happens in the colder, darker months of the year, it’s thought that this condition happens because you aren’t getting enough sunlight.
This condition is often misunderstood and brushed aside, but the sun plays a bigger part in our health than you may realise, contributing to the production of serotonin and melatonin as well as keeping your body clock in check.
Sunlight is also our primary source of vitamin D, which is created when the UV rays from sunlight hit our skin.
This connection between vitamin D and sunlight has lead to speculation that vitamin D could play a part in SAD and other mental health conditions and although there isn’t much evidence to support this at the moment, it’s still important to make sure you’re getting enough of this nutrient every day.
The NHS recommends that adults should take a 10mg supplement of vitamin D every day, especially in Winter.
Can B vitamins improve my mental health?
Like vitamin D, there’s no evidence to suggest that B vitamins have an effect on your mental health, but if you don’t get enough of them it can lead to symptoms of a mental health condition.
For example, if you don’t get enough vitamin B12 or folic acid (vitamin B9) you can develop a form of anaemia which can cause symptoms of depression and affect your memory and judgement.
As B vitamins are responsible for helping your body release energy from food, it’s easy to see how a deficiency of these vitamins can affect your brain — anyone who’s ever been clumsy and forgetful after a bad night’s sleep can tell you that!
Now we know more about the links between vitamins and your mental health it’s up to you to decide what you’re going to do next.
Remember, if you’re concerned about your mental health, the best thing you can do is to speak to someone, whether that’s a friend, a family member, or a professional.
Opening up about your mental health can be intimidating, but it really can help you to feel better and get you the path to the treatment you need.
If you’re ever struggling to find someone to talk to, there are lots of charities in the UK who are there for a friendly chat and can provide help when you need it most.