Mental Health Nutrition Tips

Mental Health Nutrition Tips

The mind is a terrible thing to waste, especially when our own nutritional gaps might be contributing to whatever may be holding us back from our full brain potential. In these studies, discover nutrients which rendered positive results concerning mood (and sleep, too):

Saffron reduced anxiety and depression in teens

In the first study to use saffron to treat anxiety and depression in teenagers, 68 teens with mild to moderate anxiety or depressive symptoms took a placebo or 14 mg of saffron extract twice per day.

After eight weeks, teens taking saffron self-reported less anxiety and depression overall. Symptoms of internalizing, such as social withdrawal, not talking, difficulty concentrating, head or stomach ache, eating more or less than usual, sadness, feeling lonely, unloved or unwanted, decreased by 33 percent for saffron compared to 17 percent for placebo.

Parents assessing the internalizing behaviors differed moderately from their children’s assessments, but the teens themselves reported less anxiety and depression.

Reference: Journal of Affective Disorders; 2018, Vol. 232, 349-57

Vitamins B9, C, and D

Lack of nutrients, or the inability to absorb nutrients, is a well-known factor in long-term psychiatric disorders. This study looked at first-time, or first episode, psychosis (FEP). Doctors analyzed findings from 28 studies that measured blood levels of six vitamins and 10 minerals in 2,612 individuals who were experiencing FEP or who were in the early stages of treatment.

Nine of the studies found a strong link between low levels of vitamin B9 (folate) and FEP. Seven of the studies found that low levels of vitamin D were a major difference between those with FEP and similar, but healthy non-psychiatric individuals. Five studies measured antioxidants and found large deficits of vitamin C in FEP.

This is the first study to measure nutrient status in FEP, and the first to show that, compared to non-psychiatric individuals, people with FEP may also have low nutritional status even before antipsychotic treatment.

Reference: Schizophrenia Bulletin; November, 2017, Published Online

Probiotics reduce hospital stays

This is the first known study of probiotics in bipolar disorder; the alternating periods of depression and elevated, or manic, mood. In this study, 66 participants with bipolar disorder began taking a daily placebo or the probiotics bifidobacterium lactis and lactobacillus rhamnosus, along with standard bipolar medication, after being admitted to the hospital for a manic episode.

Over the 24-week observation period, 24 of the 33 taking the placebo had to be readmitted to the hospital compared to 8 of the 33 taking probiotics. Hospital stays were also shorter for probiotics, lasting 2.8 days on average, compared to 8.3 days for placebo. Doctors said the results add to evidence of the mind-gut connection.

Reference: Bipolar Disorders; 2018, Vol. 20, No. 7, 612-14

Probiotics ease depression symptoms

Probiotics influence brain function, but doctors don’t understand the process. In this study, 71 volunteer women with moderate depression, aged 29 to 63, took a daily placebo or 8 billion colony-forming units of a broad-spectrum probiotic.

After four weeks, those taking probiotics saw a 50 percent improvement in depression symptom scores compared to the start of the study. Compared to placebo, those taking probiotics had 12 percent better accuracy in identifying facial expressions of all emotions, and paid more attention to neutral faces and less attention to happy or fearful expressions. The probiotics group also performed 18 percent better on audible word-recall tasks.

Remarking on the findings, doctors said people with moderate depression may be reluctant to take standard medications, and that probiotics may be an effective early complementary intervention to help prevent major depressive disorder.

Reference: Psychological Medicine; 2022, Article ID S003329172100550X

Healthy omega-3s levels depend on good sleep

In this study, doctors measured omega-3 levels in 1,314 adults, aged at least 19, generally overweight, who were not pregnant or breastfeeding, and 13.8 percent of whom reported taking an omega-3 supplement in the past 30 days.

Compared to those who got a normal amount of sleep—between seven and nine hours per night—those who got less than five hours of sleep persistently had lower levels of EPA, DHA, and total omega-3 fatty acids. Sleeping longer than normal did not change omega-3 levels, nor did having difficulty falling asleep. Those with higher EPA levels tended to have better sleep quality compared to those with lower levels.

Reference: Sleep Health; February, 2022, In Press, Corrected Proof

BetsyHealth Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease. Consult your healthcare provider before trying a supplement, especially if you have a medical condition, including being pregnant or nursing, take prescription or over-the-counter medications, or are planning on having surgery.

Article copyright 2022 by Natural Insights for Well Being. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Photo by cottonbro:

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