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Adequate micronutrient intakes are a prerequisite for mental health

February 11, 2015

A study from Australia has concluded that there is growing evidence showing vital relationships between both micronutrient-rich diets as well as nutritional deficiencies and mental health.

In the review, leading scientists stated that as with a range of medical conditions, psychiatry and public health should now recognize and embrace diet and nutrition as key determinants of mental health (1). In the last few years, rigorous studies have made important contributions to the understanding of the role of nutrition in mental health. According to the researchers evidence now supports the contention that nutrient-based prescription has the potential to assist in the management of mental disorders at the individual and population level. Studies show that many of these nutrients have a clear link to brain health, including omega-3 fatty acidsB vitamins(particularly folate and vitamin B12), ironzincmagnesiumvitamin D and amino acids. While it should be advocated for these nutrients to be consumed in the diet where possible, additional select prescription of nutrient supplements may also be justified, they said.

The scientists commented that psychiatry is at a critical stage, with the current medically-focused model having achieved only modest benefits in addressing the global burden of poor mental health. While the determinants of mental health are complex, the emerging and compelling evidence for nutrition as a key factor in the high prevalence and incidence of mental disorders suggests that nutrition is as important to psychiatry as it is to cardiology, endocrinology and gastroenterology. Many studies have shown associations between healthy dietary patterns and a reduced prevalence of and risk for depression and suicide across cultures and age groups. Maternal and early-life nutrition is an important factor in mental health outcomes in children, while severe deficiencies in some essential nutrients during critical developmental periods have long been implicated in the development of both depressive and psychotic disorders.