Read the page Nutrients / Supplements for Vegetarians before this page.
Nutrients / Supplements for Mental Health
Remember our gut is our second brain, we need to take a good care of it. Lot of us with mental health issues don't have a perfectly functioning gut. We may not be aware of it.
Even if a person with mental health issue seems to have a perfectly functioning gut, s/he should take Pre and Probiotics and Digestive Enzymes regularly for some months and occasionally thereafter. There is a new term for such supplements called psycho-biotics. We can also start taking 'Activated Charcoal' twice every week.
We should take Omega-3 fatty acids, specially EPA and DHA. These are very important for growing kids and teens in avoiding mental health issues later in life. Take this seriously and start giving/advising these supplements to kids and teens around you by consulting with a friendly health care provider. If you have doubt ask another health care provider, latest researches point in this direction. If you can take fish oil (containing EPA, DHA, ...) in capsules, please do that. High doses of Omega-3 FA might increase chances of bleeding if you are taking blood thinners. So avoid high doses and start with a light dose; once a week. Increase it to twice a week.... High doses of Omega-3 FA might also reduce the immune system's activity! Some times immune system may be overactive in some people so taking Omega-3 FA may be helpful. Ask your physician "I read online that taking Omega-3 FA supplements can help persons like me, can I start taking fish oil capsules? If his/her answer is negative then ask another physician!
People with mental health issues need to take fish oil capsules (EPA and DHA) daily for more than a year. Some people may be allergic to fish oil, in that case they may take flax seeds, chia seeds, spirulina, astaxanthin regularly. Vegetarian supplements containing EPA and DHA may be costly, so consider other non-veg sources. People who have recovered from mental health issues will need fish oil capsules or its substitutes occasionally. Vegetarian substitutes for 'Fatty Acids' are almonds, walnuts, ghee, chia seeds, flax seeds but they lack EPA and DHA.
If you are a vegetarian you should start consuming unfertilized eggs. An egg without rooster is an unfertilized egg. An unfertilized eggs is not live. It can be eaten without harming any life. Its difficult for most people to afford lots of almonds, walnuts, ghee, chia seeds... daily along with Vitamin B complex capsules or tablets. An occasional boiled egg can help us avoid lots of deficiencies. As flax seeds are generally cheap, so it is very wise to chew lightly roasted flax seeds regularly.
If you have problem with digestion / absorption you may occasionally need to take quantities (doses) of supplements more than the reference (recommended) daily values. Consult / inform your health care providers before doing that.
For mental health benefits we can take Sarcosine, Omega 3 Fatty Acids (particularly DHA & EPA), D-Serine, Zinc, Magnesium, B vitamins (particularly forms of B9, B12, B6 and B3 mentioned earlier), N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC), Inositol (B8), Choline, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3 with some calcium, Biotin (B7), Vitamin E, Glycine & Selenium...
Taking 'Beta Alanine' supplement help us with energy!
'L-Carnitine L-Tartrate' help us by burning fat to produce energy.
Coffee has more caffeine than tea, so tea may be better for us. If you can't take tea you may consider theanine in the morning.
If you overdose on a supplement you need frequent testing to determine when to stop taking or reduce the dose of that supplement.
Occasionally take Ashwagan'đhā, Spirulina, Astaxanthin, Quercetin, Curcumin (if you don't regularly eat turmeric), Saffron, Brāhmī and Shilājīŧ. Few people need Arachidonic Acid (an Omega 6 fatty acid). Few people need 'Evening Primrose Oil'.
If you want to take Ashwagan'đhā regularly for reducing OCD, anxiety, stress, depression; and/or Brāhmī for improving cognitive performance, memory, attention; start with a light dose of one of these and experiment by avoiding it on holidays. Then switch to another and try to figure out if there is any effect. These are not thoroughly researched. Most of the commercial supplements source these herbs from different sources. Never overdose on any herb. Inform about the effects of taking it to your primary health professional.
It is better to start your day with natural proteins (pulses etc.) than lots of carbohydrates.
You need to learn the system(s) used in your country and by various products to decide the doses of those dietary supplements / nutrients that you require. Reference Daily Intake (RDI) is the daily intake level of food and dietary supplement products; RDI values are used in North America. Dietary Reference Values (DRV) are used for nutritional requirements in some European countries.
Important Blood Test/s
You may consider following blood tests, and discuss the results with your primary health care provider. Please keep a record of all the tests.
- Liver Function Test - Important to find the effects of psychiatric medicine you may be taking. Do not stop your psychiatric medicine without approval of a qualified psychiatrist, just because the test shows some abnormality. Discuss with your health care providers.
- Take copper in supplements only if your blood test indicates its deficiency. Copper overload may worsen mental health issues in some cases!
- Taking a small dose of zinc and magnesium 2-3 times a week helps. Occasionally taking iron and selenium may also help. So once in a while blood tests for these nutrients may be helpful in increasing or lowering doses
- Level of all the B vitamins particularly (B3, B6, B9 and B12) need to be maintained on the upper side. So a occassional blood test may help you in adjusting their doses. Same is true for other vitamins (A, C, D and E).
- Lipid Profile Test - HDL levels of less than 60 mg/dL is problematic. High level of LDL and Triglycerides are problematic.
- CBC - Important to find the overall health and oxygen carrying capacity of white blood cells.
- Diabetes is more common among patients with schizophrenia, so blood sugar level must be monitored.
- ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate) and CRP (C-Reactive Protein). NAC is more effective when CRP is high!
- Thyroid Function Test.
- Manganese & Chromium should only be taken in trace amounts only if their 'severe' deficiencies is found in blood tests. Never take manganese or chromium without consulting your psychiatrist.
Nutrients and physical work-outs are important not only for the physical health but also for the mental health. A lot of things that are good for our heart are also good for our brain!
If a teen is having problem coping with stress; do not try to motivate him / her to take various competitive exams etc.
Published On: 22 May 2021; Regularly Updated; Recently Revised on: 24 Oct 2021;