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Nourish Your Brain for Better Mental Health

Nourish Your Brain for Better Mental Health

nutrition Oct 17, 2019

Nourish Your Brain for Better Mental Health: Risk Factors for Nutrient Depletion

Did you know that specific nutritional deficiency may actually cause mental illness or exacerbate existing symptoms? This is because humans require a variety and certain level of basic vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and amino acids for proper brain function and to manufacture the necessary neurotransmitter levels (serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine) to maintain mental health.1,2  Without certain nutrients, it can literally be impossible for us to feel good--both mentally and physically.

You May Be Missing Key Nutrients

Even if you eat a healthy diet, your body may still be missing certain key nutrients. A lot of fruits and vegetables have less nutrition in them today compared to their counterparts grown decades ago. This is mainly due to soil depletion as modern agricultural methods continue to strip nutrients from the soil.3 Prescription medications such as antacids, antibiotics, cholesterol medications, anti-depressants, female hormones, anti-convulsants, anti-inflammatories, diuretics, cardiovascular drugs, and diabetes medications have also been associated with specific nutrient deficiencies.

Risk Factors for Nutrient Depletion

You may also be at risk for nutrient deficiencies if you take in inadequate calories, have limited food diversity, or have been exposed to certain toxins. Other health conditions, such as genetic mutations, chronic illness, food allergies, and GI disease can also impact your body's ability to absorb or retain nutrients.

Mental Health and Nutritional Deficiency

Additionally, and somewhat ironically, mental health symptoms can actually put you at risk for nutrient depletion. When you are struggling with mental health issues, healthy eating can feel like a major challenge. You may crave high-sugar foods with little nutritional value, or feel overwhelmed by detailed diet plans or complex recipes. That's why we've designed a simple, easy-to-follow guide to eating for better mental health. Read about our Resilient Diet here.




The Resilient Diet

Learn about The Resilient Diet, six principles to adjusting your diet for mental health. Read more.




  1. Sarris, J., Logan, A. C., Akbaraley, T. N., Amminger, G. P., Martinez, V. B., Freeman, M. P. ... Jacka, F. N. (2015). Nutritional medicine as ainstream in psychiatry. The Lancet: Psychiatry, 2(3), 271-274. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(14)00051-0
  2. O’Neil, A., Quirk, S. E., Housden, S., Brennan, S. L., Williams, L. J., Pasco, J. A., ... Jacka, F. N. (2014). Relationship between diet and mental health in children and adolescents: A systematic review. American Journal of Public Health, 104(10), 31-42.  doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2014.302110
  3. Davis, D. R., Epp, M. D., & Riordan, H. D. (2004). Changes in USDA food composition data for 43 garden crops, 1950 to 1999. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 23(6), 669-682.

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This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice and is not a replacement for advice and treatment from a medical professional. Consult your doctor or other qualified health professional before beginning any diet change, supplement, or lifestyle program. See our terms for more information.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call the NAMI HelpLine: 1-800-950-6264 available Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., ET. OR text "HelpLine" to 62640 or email NAMI at [email protected]. Visit NAMI for more. You can also call or text SAMHSA at 988 or chat 988lifeline.org.