Study Deems Supplements Important for Mental Health

February 5, 2015
Meghan Ross, Associate Editor

Medications and cognitive therapy aren't the only treatments available to patients with mental illness.

Medications and cognitive therapy aren’t the only treatments available to patients with mental illness.

A new study published in The Lancet Psychiatry posits that diet and nutrition play an integral part in mental health and should be embraced by health care professionals as helpful tools in the field of psychiatry.

Researchers maintained that nutrient-based prescription and dietary improvement have the potential to help manage mental disorders. While the authors advocated for nutrients absorbed through food, they noted that some supplements could be useful for patients with mental illness, as well. For instance, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, choline, iron, zinc, magnesium, S-adenosyl methionine, vitamin D, and amino acids have all been linked to brain health.

Lead study author Jerome Sarris, PhD, informed Pharmacy Times of a couple ways in which pharmacists could help promote good diet and nutrition.

“Pharmacists can encourage patients to eat a wholefood diet and thus receive their nutrition primarily through this means,” Dr. Sarris told Pharmacy Times. “While judicious nutrient supplementation has its place in cases of deficiency, poor diet, or to augment the effects of certain medications, this can be employed alongside dietary modification.”

Dr. Sarris also added that pharmacists could provide evidence-based handouts, links to reputable websites, or referrals to nutritionists.

For women who would like to become pregnant, this issue is especially relevant.

“Maternal and early-life nutrition is also emerging as a factor in mental health outcomes in children, while severe deficiencies in some essential nutrients during critical developmental periods have long been implicated in the development of both depressive and psychotic disorders,” said Felice Jacka, president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research, in a press release.

Previous research has confirmed a link between unhealthy diets and poorer mental health among children and adolescents. Better diet and nutrition could potentially help prevent early-onset mental disorders, such as anxiety and depression, the current study authors suggested.