Toggle High
Contrast On
Categories
Body icon
Body
We celebrate all shapes and sizes because we see nothing but beauty.
View Topic
Life icon
Life
GR8NESS isn’t something you do; it’s how you live.
View Topic
Mind icon
Mind
Infuse mindfulness and awareness into everything you do.
View Topic
Self Care icon
Self Care
Refresh, renew, and reconnect with your inner self to nurture your wellbeing.
View Topic
Soul icon
Soul
Connect with all of humanity and discover your true self.
View Topic
Body
We celebrate all shapes and sizes because we see nothing but beauty.
View More
Categories
A life in motion is a life well lived. Move. Discover. Grow.
View Topic
True health lies in finding the perfect balance of mind, body, and spirit.
View Topic
Chronic pain can be debilitating. Regain control of your body and mind.
View Topic
Remedies sourced from nature help heal pains, both seen and unseen.
View Topic
Feed your body properly and you’ll nurture more than just the physical.
View Topic
Life
GR8NESS isn’t something you do; it’s how you live.
View More
Categories
Ease the way you move through life with simplicity and intelligence.
View Topic
Strengthening your relationships helps you celebrate who you’ve become.
View Topic
Raising children is the job of a lifetime. And you never get to retire.
View Topic
Our planet is a marvelous gift. Become the change the world needs by helping it heal.
View Topic
They’re an extended part of your family. Care for them the way they deserve.
View Topic
Mind
Infuse mindfulness and awareness into everything you do.
View More
Categories
While you cannot escape the stresses of life, you can find shelter inside yourself.
View Topic
Calming anxiety, easing depression, and discovering peace of mind are within your grasp.
View Topic
Everyday tools, training, and techniques to convince your brain it can be so much more.
View Topic
From mantras for self-love to changing the way you look at wellness.
View Topic
category alt tag
Self Care
Refresh, renew, and reconnect with your inner self to nurture your wellbeing.
View More
Categories
The journey of self-discovery is never-ending. Embrace your journey.
View Topic
Feeling good about your outside impacts how you feel about your inside. Feel beautiful both ways.
View Topic
Soul
Connect with all of humanity and discover your true self.
View More
Categories
Dive into your practice and experience something new every day. Give your mind some space to grow.
View Topic
Feed your mind with powerful positive statements to help you believe in yourself.
View Topic
In a fast-paced world, sometimes the best thing you can do is to breathe.
View Topic
GR8NESS expert Expert Reviewed
Image by Marjan Apostolovic / Shutterstock
195 Views
5 Min Read Time
3 Shares

Can Dietary Deficiencies Cause Mental Health Concerns?

GR8NESS RATING
4
gr8 vote
GR8
0
meh vote
MEH
0
pass vote
PASS

The evolving health of our brains and minds is the foundation of everything we do as humans. Nothing can occur without processing through the mind. Similarly, with nutrients we put into our bodies—whatever we ingest must first find its way through the digestive system.

The importance of the nervous system and digestive system is obvious, but the relationship between the two? It’s a little more subtle if you’re not observing it with intention. Is it possible that there is an interplay between the status of mental health and deficiency in diet? Let’s explore how the respective systems in the body interact.

Mental Health and Nutrition

If unaware of the association, it might be strange to consider that nutrition could have an impact on mental health. Commonly, most people know about the connection between their feelings and their cravings. 

We’ve also seen that there is a link between struggling with mental feelings and digestion. It’s common to understand that negative or troublesome emotions might result in not feeling hungry, or upset stomach.

The Brain and Gut

These are likely everyday associations. However, the bridge between mental health and nutrition goes deeper. One clue we have is the functionality of the gut or digestive system as a whole. Beyond stomach aches and craving, the digestive system is an integral component of many operations in the body.

It is responsible for receiving, processing, and absorbing nutrients that serve as determinants. Based on what is introduced to the body dietarily, the gut will signal the brain to behave in particular ways. This happens through their immediate connection and communication channel—the brain-gut-axis.

It’s explained by one of the body’s largest nerves, otherwise known as the vagus nerve. It works alongside the millions of neurons in the central nervous system (CNS) and is responsible for sending signals from both ends.

Another way the gut and brain share a connection is through neurotransmitters. They are found within the brain as generally known. However, they are present in the millions of bacteria in the digestive tract as well.

Why Deficiencies Make a Difference

I can recall my first discussion with a therapist about the possibility that health or food supplements might improve my anxiety. Without a substantial background, the idea first struck me as odd. I had a hard time believing that a small fix such as taking magnesium or omega-3 could really do much for my messy, anxious feelings.

When referring to mental concerns, it’s typical to assume at least in part that adverse feelings have something to do with genetics or environmental factors. This is not untrue, and what’s more, it further supports the linkage between nutrition and mental functions, cognitively and emotionally.

If the gut detects that a nutrient or vitamin is lacking, it influences the brain. It will signal the brain to respond in ways that may result in decreased mental health.

Types of Deficiencies Linked to Mental Health

Dietary input is one way to become deficient in a particular vitamin or nutrient. However, genetic differences may also play a significant role. Interestingly, the relationship between mental health and deficiency can work both ways. Deficiency can lead to mental health problems, and mental health problems can lead to deficiency.

The following are common nutrients along with their respective relations to functions pertaining to mental health.

Protein Deficiency

Proteins consist of amino acids. They are an essential component to many neurotransmitters in the brain. Specifically, serotonin and dopamine. Lack of amino acids may result in a lack of synthesis for neurotransmitters, which is associated with low mood and aggression.

Omega-3 fatty Acid Deficiency

Adequate levels of essential fatty acids are critical during infant stages to develop visual, cerebral, and intellectual capabilities. A deficiency in omega-3 or omega-6 may lead to increased feelings of depression and mood swings. Deficiency may also lead to accelerated aging of the brain. It also shares a link with dyslexia and autism.

B Vitamin Deficiency

Vitamin B-12 may aid in slowing the progression of mental orders like dementia. However, deficiency may lead to cognitive decline in general, and poor mood.

Folate Deficiency

Folic acid enhances the effectiveness of certain antidepressants. The connection between folic acid and mental health is inconclusive in terms of which affects which. However, depression is a correlated symptom of deficiency.

Iodine Deficiency

Specifically relating to pregnancy, low levels of iodine relate to severe cerebral dysfunction and lack of clarity for the mother.

Iron Deficiency

Depression, fatigue, and overall stress of cerebral function can occur from a deficiency in iron. Iron deficiency anemia can also link to apathy and rapid fatigue. 

Lithium Deficiency

Lithium is long-associated with a slew of mental health conditions. Lack of lithium may result in mental illness and mood instability. Bipolar disorder, manic depression, suicide, schizophrenia, ADD, aggression, impulse control disorder, alcoholism, and eating disorders may all be treated with adequate levels of lithium.

Selenium Deficiency

A lack of selenium may lead to lowered mood and anxiety. It can also promote cognitive decline over time, resulting in the progression of related diseases like Alzheimer’s or dementia. 

Zinc Deficiency

Low concentrations of zinc in the body relate to clinical depression and overall brain disease. Three major areas of the brain, the amygdala, hippocampus, and cerebral cortex depend on zinc to work properly. 

A Note from GR8NESS

Keep in mind that these are common deficiencies to watch for. Now that you understand the correlation between mental function and nutrition note that other deficiencies may also have an impact. While many of these nutrients are available in precise supplement form, they may also be taken in via healthy foods that are rich with their contents. If you experience any symptoms of mental health struggle, never hesitate to ask for assistance. Reach out to a loved one or mental health professional.

GR8NESS RATING
4
gr8 vote
GR8
0
meh vote
MEH
0
pass vote
PASS
Amanda
GR8NESS Writer
Amanda is a GR8NESS contributing writer who lives in celebration of self care, and endeavors to approach all things with a student mentality. Her love for the study of self-development is rooted in fitness, holistic wellness, and skin care. She is an advocate for mental health; and hopes to connect others to their own way of daring to care.
Learn More
Related Articles
GR8NESS expert Expert Reviewed
Image by Charles Deluvio / Shutterstock

How Working from Home Affects Your Mental Health

Working from home affects each person differently. As the world climate changes more individuals are working remotely than ever before, some without knowing when they'll be back in the office. Major companies including Twitter, Facebook, Square, and Google state that employees can remain working remotely indefinitely, or at least for...
GR8NESS expert Expert Reviewed
Image by GaudiLab / Shutterstock

Coping with Post-Lockdown Anxiety

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we were forced into confinement like never before–carving out workspaces in our bedrooms or living rooms, homeschooling our children, and socially distancing from pretty much everyone. At that time, we were feeling confused and anxious about the "new normal," what it meant, how it was...
GR8NESS expert Expert Reviewed
Image by Goran Petric / Shutterstock

Turning Off the News May Benefit Your Mental Health

I've always considered myself a very in-the-know type of person. Every morning I wake up, check my e-mails, my social media feeds, and then I check out what the major news outlets are saying. I even have a paid subscription to several online newspapers. Six months ago I would have...
GR8NESS expert Expert Reviewed
Image by Daniel Patrick Martin / Shutterstock

Mental Health Professionals Are Using Psychedelic Drugs in Treatments

Innovations in the mental health space seem to be shifting with societal changes. As society continues to evolve, stigmas are disappearing, and how we study and treat the mind adopts these changes. Today, mental health is more of a conversation than ever before. People are becoming more conscious of their...
The URL has been copied