Feeling anxious, frantic, fearful, or depressed all too often? Obtaining the right balance of vital nutrients daily is important for brain health. A busy lifestyle makes eating well balanced, nutritious meals a challenge. And to make matters worse, stress depletes the body of stored B vitamins, minerals and more, and takes a toll on the nervous system. Imbalances and deficiencies in any of these nutrients can cause health and cognitive problems. So what can you do? Learn how these brain-building natural supplements improve mental health and give you a boost of happy.
Feeling Blue? Try These Supplements
1. Vitamin D is essentially a neuro-hormone that enhances brain function and promotes emotional wellness. People suffering from low levels of vitamin D3 are more prone to experience depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, or suicidal thoughts, which are all linked to chronic brain inflammation. Adequate or high levels of vitamin D lower chances of infection and inflammation. Since dietary intake or exposure to natural sunlight may not provide adequate amounts, many doctors suggest taking vitamin D3 supplements daily to ensure sufficient vitamin D levels.
2. Omega-3 essential fatty acids assist in regulating mood, and the proper function and transmission of nerve impulses from the brain to the body. Studies found that healthy adults who consume the most omega-3 fatty acids have more gray matter in the three areas of the brain that affect and regulate mood.
- Many doctors recommend krill oil or fish oil supplements as excellent supplemental sources of Omega-3.
- DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) is an omega-3 essential fatty acid that is paramount to healthy brain function and the nervous system. Deficiency has been linked to psychiatric disorders and other brain illnesses.
3. Vitamin B Complex promotes healthy nerves and proper brain function. The B vitamins include: B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pantothenic Acid), known as the anti-stress vitamin, B6 (Pyridoxine), and B12 (Cyanocobalamin). They assist in producing energy in the body and relieving anxiety and depression. Adequate intake is paramount for senior adults as these nutrients become more difficult to absorb as we age. In fact, it is not uncommon for people unaware that they have vitamin B deficiencies to be misdiagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Depression can be caused by a deficiency in one or more of the B vitamins.
A deficiency in one B vitamin is usually an indication of a deficiency in another as the B vitamins work in conjunction to produce mood-enhancing serotonin. In Prescription for Nutritional Healing: The A to Z Guide to Supplements, Phyllis A. Balch, CNC, advises, “The B vitamins should always be taken together, but up to two to three times more of one B vitamin than another can be taken for a period of time if needed for a particular disorder. There are spray and sublingual forms that are absorbed more easily, which are good choices for older adults and those with absorption problems.”
4. Folate is considered brain food and is necessary for energy production and the formation of red blood cells. A deficiency in folate affects mood and is associated with increased rates of depression and anxiety. Thus folate supplementation may relieve depression and anxiety.
5. Tyrosine is an amino acid that supports healthy mental function, metabolism, and elevates mood. A lack of adequate tyrosine can lead to depression or anxiety.
6. GABA (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid) is an amino acid that serves as a calming neurotransmitter within the central nervous system. It assists in proper brain function, boosts brain metabolism, and aides the brain in adapting and reacting positively to stress, and reducing anxiety. It helps us to stay calm under pressure and to have restful sleep. Dietary sources are not believed to be sufficient to significantly impact brain levels. Thus, GABA supplements may provide healthy brain support.
7. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that line your digestive tract. They assist in absorbing nutrients from the foods you eat, enhance your immune system, and fight infection, harmful bacteria, viruses, yeast, and parasites. But there’s more. Probiotics also play an important role in improving mental health and neurological disorders. Here’s how: The health of our gut affects our neurological system. The gut communicates and is connected to, the brain via the long, vagus nerve which extends from the brainstem to the abdomen. Gut inflammation has been shown to produce symptoms of anxiety, conditioned fear, depression, brain fog or confusion, aggressive behavior, ADD, autism, and more. Taking a probiotic supplement can improve the health of the gut, and can stave off depression, and anxiety.
8. Magnesium is a mineral that assists in the body’s production of energy, and the transmission of nerve and muscle impulses. A deficiency in magnesium can lead to depression, insomnia, irritability, nervousness, twitching, confusion, insomnia, premenstrual syndrome, seizures, and tantrums. Alcohol consumption depletes the body of magnesium. Diabetics are generally deficient in magnesium, thus testing for magnesium levels is important.
9. Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALC) comes from the essential amino acid L-carnitine which has been widely studied due to its anti-aging effects with regard to degeneration of the brain and nervous system. Major studies have shown that daily ALC supplementation significantly decreases the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, and memory loss. It is used to treat depression and other cognitive disorders. Acetyl L-Carnitine also helps maintain healthy neurological function by delivering antioxidant protection throughout the entire nervous system. Since brain levels of ALC decline with age, supplementation for mental health may be especially advantageous for middle-aged and older adults.
10. Resveratrol is an antioxidant often taken to improve cardiovascular health and longevity. However, it is also known to boost brain health by protecting brain cells from free radical damage, and preventing premature brain cell aging. Since the amount of resveratrol can vary greatly in foods sources such as red wine, supplementation will ensure maximum support.
While vitamin and other natural supplements provide essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids and more to promote wellness, some supplements should not be taken in conjunction with others, or by children. To establish an effective, mental health wellness plan, talk with your health care provider about proper dosages, and testing for any deficiencies.