How Nutrition Plays a Role in Caring for Your Mental Health

Mental health looks different for everybody, which is why different treatment approaches are beneficial. Medical treatment is not the only solution. Oftentimes there is a need for supplemental approaches to care such as nutrition therapy, which is where essential vitamins come into play.

In the U.S. alone, 1 in 5 adults has experienced mental illness within the last year. Among them, the most common are depression and anxiety—conditions that are associated with a lack of some vitamins. Have you ever wondered if there’s more you could be doing to help your mental health? Along with journaling, mindfulness, talk therapy, exercising, medication, and other interventions, a change in diet or a new supplement plan to receive your necessary daily vitamins could be exactly what you need!

Which Vitamins Am I Missing?

If you happen to be struggling with depression or anxiety, there’s a big chance that you’re missing some of these key vitamins in your diet:

Vitamin B-12

B-12 deficiency is associated with depression and anxiety since it’s a vitamin known to produce chemicals that affect your mood. B-12 and other B vitamins are usually found in animal products and are here to help keep your immune system healthy and your brain functioning. If you’re looking to get more vitamin B in your life, try introducing more of these foods to your daily intake:

  • salmon
  • leafy greens
  • eggs
  • milk
  • beef, chicken, and turkey
  • legumes
  • yogurt
  • nutritional yeast

Vitamin D

Lack of vitamin D has been positively linked to mental health problems. Of course, we naturally get vitamin D from the sun, but what happens when the winter months come around? About 5% of adults in the U.S. suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is linked to a biochemical imbalance in the brain prompted by shorter daylight hours and less sunlight in winter. Increasing levels of vitamin D, especially during the winter months, has proven effective when dealing with SAD and other mental health disorders. Vitamin D is found in the following foods:

  • oily fish (salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel)
  • red meat
  • liver
  • egg yolks
  • fortified foods (fat spreads and breakfast cereals)

Since these foods are less likely to be a part of your daily food intake, vitamin D supplements are a great alternative.

Introducing Vitamins to Fit Your Lifestyle

Mental health conditions can oftentimes have adverse effects on your lifestyle. When you’re struggling with depression or anxiety, it’s all about survival and taking it one day at a time. The last thing on your mind is implementing new lifestyle changes.

This is why it is recommended to take small steps towards making lifestyle changes. Having a balanced diet and supplement regiment won’t happen overnight, so try not to hold yourself to standards that will inevitably set you up for failure.

Prioritizing your Mental Health

It’s important to note that the intake of these vitamins isn’t meant to replace proven treatments such as medication or psychological interventions, but is rather beneficial in supplementing these approaches.

At the end of the day, your mental health is what’s most important. Prioritize what works for you and if you are currently experiencing any mental health issues, make sure to seek help from a professional.

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  • Danielle Boucher

    Danielle is a freelance writer and editor based out of Ottawa. She is currently studying Publishing at Ryerson University and navigating her lifelong relationship with her mental health one day at a time.

    View all posts
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