Mental and physical health can be dramatically improved with a nutrient-dense, healthy diet. Many times, deficiency of essential vitamins and minerals can compromise brain function and increase symptoms of depression, irritability, anxiety, and more.
Understand the Signs of Nutritional Deficiencies
Mental health disorders can be caused by various factors such as psychological, biological, genetic, environmental, and circumstantial. Nutritional deficiencies are the most overlooked biological element to someone’s mental well-being.
Getting a complete blood panel is the best way to know because deficiencies are extremely unique to each person. Healthy eating and nutritional care increase mental and physical health. If a patient or client’s diet doesn’t comprise nutrient-rich foods, consider suggesting nutritional supplements for the following top 5 nutrients needed for optimal brain function.
5 Nutrients Needed for Optimal Brain Function
Vitamin D regulates the production of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and dopamine, and plays a vital role as an important hormone for brain function. Vitamin D deficiency manifests in a variety of ways including fatigue, muscle weakness, hair loss, back pain, poor skin healing, bone pain, and mood changes.
Foods to Recommend: A diet rich in vitamin D natural sources such as eggs, fatty fish (such as sock-eyed salmon or trout), mushrooms, fortified foods (like brown rice), goat cheese, and gluten-free oats should be consumed.
Vitamin B deficiency (B1, B6, B7, B12, B complex) can contribute to depression, anxiety, and mood swings. It is associated with a disruption in the nervous system as well as the circulatory system. B12/B9, or folate, is at the forefront of mood management. People fighting depression tend to have lower levels of folate (B12/B9) in the blood.
Foods to Recommend: Folate is present in dark green vegetables, beans, peas, citrus fruits, and legumes (such as lentils and garbanzo beans).
The deficiency of magnesium is known to increase many symptoms related to mental disorders, such as agitation, anxiety, irritability, confusion, insomnia, headache, hallucinations, and depression.
Foods to Recommend: Include magnesium-rich foods, such as pumpkin seeds, dark organic chocolate (plus 72%), and almonds, into the diet at least three times a day to help alleviate some stress.
Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for brain function, supporting mental sharpness, and positive mood. Symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings or depression, and poor circulation.
Foods to Recommend: Oily fish (such as sock-eyed salmon or cod) are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats can also be found in flaxseeds and walnuts; this is the work of divine intervention—walnuts look like the brain.
Probiotic is by far the most ignored deficiency that creates the worst symptoms that affect millions of people worldwide. Probiotics are a mix of live bacteria and yeast that live naturally in the human gastrointestinal tract that promote healthy digestion, support a healthy response to stress, promote positive mood and emotional balance. Mental health issues that have been linked to an unhealthy gut include ADD/ADHD, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Physical issues include autoimmune problems (such as thyroid issues and arthritis disorders), digestive issues (such as irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, or bloating), sleep issues, skin rashes, allergies, and the rollercoaster of sugar cravings.
Foods to Recommend: Probiotics support the important gut/brain connection. Probiotic foods are organic yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, non-GMO miso, kombucha (be aware of sugar content), and pickles.
Just like anything else please do due diligence, more is not always better.
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