Role of supplements in mental health
Mental health is a vital component of overall health and wellbeing. Several factors contribute to an individual’s mental health, as proposed by the biopsychosocial approach. Several biological derangements contribute to disease, including deficiencies of vital minerals and trace elements.
In most diagnosed mental health illnesses such as depression, biological investigations coincide with low micronutrient levels. Therefore, minerals and vitamin supplements play a crucial role in preventing and lowering the incidence of mental health.
Supplements & depression
Vitamins are essential in many biological processes required for the maintenance of overall health. Folate, a vitamin in the B complex series, is vital in synthesizing neurotransmitters and other factors in the body. One of the notable mental conditions linked to vitamin deficiencies is depression. Maintaining a healthy balance of monoamines, including dopamine and serotonin, correlates with euthymia or a normal range of moods and emotions (Moore et al., 2017).
However, a deficiency in monoamines results in symptoms of depression. Several treatment modalities, including antidepressants, work by increasing monoamine levels within the central nervous system. Therefore, vitamin supplements can reduce the incidence of monoamine deficiencies, effectively improving the population’s mental health.
Other vitamins also have an active role in mental health. Thiamine (B1), also in the B complex of vitamins, is necessary for brain metabolism. Thiamine plays a role in facilitating glucose metabolism into utilizable energy. Consequently, a deficiency results in low energy levels and chronic fatigue. Moreover, depression, insomnia, anxiety, and irritability result from low thiamine levels (Moore et al., 2017).
Another vital vitamin is cobalamin B12. Cobalamin has a role in red blood cell synthesis. Therefore, deficiency in cobalamin results in pernicious anemia, which is linked to mental conditions like dementia, hallucinations, paranoia, and mood swings (Moore et al., 2017). Again, ensuring adequate blood levels of vitamins through supplementation plays a crucial role in facilitating mental health in the population. Besides vitamins, trace elements are vital in maintaining good mental health.
Trace element deficiency
Trace elements are compounds that are found in very small amounts in the body. However, depletion or deficiency of such elements results in dysfunction across many systems. Trace elements are vital in body metabolism, digestion, neural transmission, immunity, and other essential functions (Janka, 2019). Examples of these trace elements include Zinc, Selenium, Chromium, and Copper, among others. The deficiency of some of the trace elements results in recognized mental health conditions.
The spectrum of mental disease due to trace element deficiencies is broad. Depression, for example, results from a lack of vital trace elements like Selenium, Iron, and zinc. Moreover, new-onset premenstrual dysphoria is closely linked to chromium deficiency. Trace elements like zinc and selenium have a role in psychotic disorders, with deficiencies related to the causation of schizophrenia (Janka, 2019).
Moreover, several cognitive disorders, including dementia and overall deterioration, come due to deficiencies in manganese, zinc, iron, and other trace elements (Janka, 2019). The list of psychiatric and mental disorders secondary to trace element deficiency is endless. However, supplementation through food fortification and other measures minimizes the burden of deficiency-associated mental illnesses.
Nutrition status, particularly micronutrients, plays a vital role in mental health. Vitamins and trace elements work to create neurochemical and metabolic balance required for mental and overall health. Therefore, supplements have a critical role in offsetting these imbalances. Adoption of supplementation and fortification strategies is necessary to maintain good mental health.
Moore, K., Hughes, C. F., Hoey, L., Ward, M., Porter, K., Strain, J. J., Pentieva, K., Molloy, A., & McNulty, H. (2017). Role of fortification and supplementation in achieving optimal biomarker status of B-vitamins for better mental health in older adults. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 76(OCE3).