We work so hard to maintain emotional and mental balance. I mean, we fine-tune meds, make lifestyle changes, work on relationships, and more. Still, we wonder if we’ve covered our bases. Hmmm. What about vitamins and supplements?
Antioxidant/Anti-Inflammatory: The link between emotional/mental health disorders and chronic inflammation is true. Let’s tone-down this inflammation with some healthy supplements. This could come in the form of green tea, turmeric, cinnamon or ginger root…
We’re fortunate to have so many highly qualified and bright professionals willing to share their wisdom and lend a hand here on Chipur. Speaking of which…
Amanda Porter, NP describes herself as a wife, mom, introvert, and writer who likes to talk about faith, hope, and recovery. Amanda is a nurse practitioner, specializing in holistic psychiatry/mental health – proudly practicing at the nationally-renowned Lindner Center of HOPE in Mason, Ohio.
What do you think? Is she qualified to educate and help us? I say, “Way more than…” So let’s go ahead and hand her the reins…
The TOP 9 Supplements for Your OPTIMAL Mental HEALTH
Upfront fact: I am a HUGE fan of nutrient therapy and supplements. I’m actually a little nutty about it. I have three shelves in our kitchen devoted to storing them. As a psychiatric nurse practitioner, I know that reaching optimal mental health is virtually impossible if you do not lay the groundwork for nutritional success.
In other words, FOOD is MEDICINE.
However, the reality of a chaotic life can disrupt our best intentions for healthful meals. So, we can rely on supplements to help out.
A Good Start:
- Daily Multivitamin: A concise daily MTV will, if nothing else, give you some piece of mind that you did in fact get your daily required chromium. So, there’s that.
- Fish Oil or Caprylic Acid: Believe it or not, fat is not the enemy anymore when it comes to diet. Just watch for the TYPE of fat you are taking in. Omega 3 fatty acids can help with focus/concentration, depression, and Alzheimer’s. They can also decrease the onset of psychosis.
- Vitamin D: You think you’re getting enough from your milk and yogurt, but you’re just not. Low Vitamin D levels are connected with increased rates of depression, cognitive decline, and fatigue. The geographic region with the highest rate of schizophrenia? Scandanavia, where the average daily sunlight is zilch and Vitamin D levels are sunk.
- Probiotics: A healthy gut makes for a healthy brain. Helping gut flora proliferate has a HUGE beneficial effect since 95% of serotonin is stored in the gut. Depression can be relieved and overall mood can be balanced. BDNF (fertilizer for your brain) is boosted, as well as the strength of your immune system.
- Magnesium: This supplement is important for controlling anxiety, aiding in restorative sleep, resolving depression, and lowering hyperactivity. The easiest way to become magnesium-deficient? Eating a ton of processed food. The most optimal version is magnesium oxide.
- B-Complex: This is a daily proposition. If you don’t have the building blocks for serotonin and norepinephrine, those prescription psychotropics don’t stand much of a chance of working. Abundant B vitamins are necessary. ALSO, let’s think about that folic acid for a sec. Have you been checked for the MTHFR mutation?
- Antioxidant/Anti-Inflammatory: The link between emotional/mental health disorders and chronic inflammation is true. Let’s tone-down this inflammation with some healthy supplements. This could come in the form of green tea, turmeric, cinnamon or ginger root – all of which are amazing. Throw in some dark chocolate if you want to get wild. Glutathione (the uber-antioxidant) cannot be consumed in an effective supplement form, BUT you can ingest its precursor, the lovely n-acetylcysteine. Anti-inflammatories have even been known (I’ve witnessed this myself!) to be helpful in the treatment of some addictions.
- Phosphatidylserine: It’s the new generation of ginkgo biloba. It’s helpful for memory, focus, and cognitive functioning. Combine it with a smidge of l-tyrosine and you’ve got a killer weapon against inattention issues.
- Lithium: Now, take a deep breath and put your pitchfork away. I’m not talking about the lithium carbonate that can zombify you. I’m talking about the mineral – say, lithium aspartate – that can halt the progression of dementia, promote neurogenesis, and decrease glutamate (the neurotransmitter that can send your brain into a chaotic overdrive).
If you are the sort to worry about “overdoing” your vitamins, learn the difference between the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) and the Tolerable Upper Limit (TUL). You can read more about these here and here. As you can see, there is a large gap between the minimum you should take-in so you can KEEP LIVING and the maximum you can take in before you STOP LIVING.
Where to purchase your supplements is up to you. However, I would advise you to CHECK THE LABEL. Don’t assume that when you pay $4 for a 1000-tab tub of multivitamins at a discount store that you are getting QUALITY. Check the label for the presence of any of the dreaded fillers. Fillers = junk.
Now you’re off to a good start with the basics!
Thank You, Amanda!
You’ve essentially provided a clinical consultation free of charge, and it means a lot, Amanda.
Okay, since it’s my site, I guess I have to play the heavy with the disclaimers. Please keep in mind we’re all wired differently, so what works for one of us may not for the other. If you’re considering any of the vitamins and supplements above, do your due diligence, turning to a medical professional for consultation. We don’t want any boo-boos when it comes to allergic and/or med interactions. And remember, as wonderful as these vitamins and supplements may be, they aren’t FDA approved for the treatment of emotional/mental health disorders.
Feel free to share your comments/questions in the comment section. I’m thinking Amanda will help us with replies.
Finally, Amanda was good enough to provide her sources for the piece. So that means you can turn to them for knowledge and insight…
Amminger, et. al. (2015). Longer-term outcome in the prevention of psychotic disorders by the Vienna omega-3 study. Nature Communications; 6 (7934) 1-7.
Asevedo, et. al. (2014). Systematic review of N-acetylcysteine in the treatment of addictions. Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria; 36 (2), 168-175.
Axe, J. (2016). Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut May Be the Root Cause of Your Health Problems and 5 Surprising Steps to Cure It. New York: Harper.
Brown, H. & Roffman, J. (2014). Vitamin Supplement in the Treatment of Schizophrenia. CNS Drugs; 28, 611-622.
Farooqui, A. (2009). Beneficial effects of fish oil on the human brain. Springer: New York, NY.
Higdon, J. (2003). An Evidence-Based Approach to Vitamins and Minerals: Health Benefits and Intake Recommendations. Stuttgart: Thieme
Lounsbury, H. (2014). Fix Your Mood with Food. Guilford: Skirt!
Perlmutter, D. (2013). Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar — Your Brain’s Silent Killers. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.
Sears, W. (2012). The Omega-3 Effect: Everything You Need to Know About the Supernutrient for Living Longer, Happier, and Healthier. Boston: Little, Brown and Company
Walsh, W. (2014). Nutrient Power. New York: Skyhorse.
Many, many more Chipur titles to review. Please, help yourself.