The Surprising Truth about Vitamins and Your Mental Health
You probably know that vitamins can enhance your physical wellbeing, but how do they affect your mental health?
Many mental health professionals and patients report positive results from using a variety of natural supplements, and a growing body of research supports their claims.
These developments may sound promising if you’ve been diagnosed with a condition like depression or anxiety or if you want a little help dealing with daily stress. That’s especially true these days with the extra pressures created by COVID-19.
Remember to discuss any supplements or treatments with your doctor, so they can keep you safe and coordinate your care.
Meanwhile, take a look at this list of vitamins and other natural remedies that may provide relief with little risk of side effects for most adults.
Vitamins and Supplements for Mental Health:
Enjoy the sun. Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, helps with mood regulation and brain function. Research suggests it may provide some relief for depression and anxiety. In addition to supplements, you can get vitamin D from sun exposure and foods like egg yolks.
Explore B vitamins. The B group contains 8 different vitamins. Several of them may play a role in depression, especially B-12, B-6, and folate. Before taking supplements, check with your doctor to be sure they won’t interfere with any medications. You can also get B vitamins from most animal products and some fortified foods.
Buy multivitamins. To keep things simple, you might want a single multivitamin. Ask your doctor which formula is appropriate for you.
Take omega-3s. These fatty acids provide many health benefits and may help prevent and treat depression and anxiety. If you’re not a fan of fatty fish, you might prefer capsules.
Consume more magnesium. Reducing anxiety is one of many jobs for this essential mineral. You may not need pills because magnesium comes in so many foods from dark chocolate to black beans.
Try valerian. Children with hyperactivity disorders and seniors with insomnia have had positive experiences with this root. However, it can cause headaches and upset stomachs for some users.
Consider melatonin. Your body produces this hormone naturally, but extra doses may help you sleep. It’s been used successfully with patients with schizophrenia, seasonal affective disorder, and other conditions.
Drink tea. Some commercial products contain substances derived from tea. For example, green and black varieties contain the amino acid L-theanine, which is involved in regulating stress and sleep.
- Sniff lavender. This fragrant herb is another popular sleep remedy. Grow it yourself or buy it in many forms from body lotions to candles.
Other Natural Approaches to Mental Health:
Eat healthy. Most adults can get enough vitamins and other nutrients from a balanced diet. However, your doctor may suggest supplements if you’re pregnant or have certain other conditions.
Exercise. Physical activity trains your brain too. Yoga or team sports relieve stress and moodiness.
Meditate daily. Even brief sessions of mindfulness produce major mental health benefits. Regular practice eases psychological stress and social anxiety as you increase your self-awareness and compassion.
- Sleep well. Psychological issues can interfere with your sleep, and lack of sleep can make symptoms more difficult to manage. Break the cycle by sticking to a regular bedtime and keeping your bedroom dark and quiet.
As long as you follow your doctor’s recommendations, vitamins and other natural remedies may help you to manage mental health symptoms in conjunction with medication and talk therapy.
For minor stress, lifestyle changes like a balanced diet and more exercise may be all you need to soothe your body and mind.