dietary supplements and mental wellness

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Eating a balanced diet, if fundamentally important for mental wellness. However, our diet sometimes lacks nutrients that are key to mental wellness which leaves room for supplementation. if you know your diet is lacking key nutrients, dietary supplements may be the key to symptom relief.

Dietary supplements are not a replacement of a healthy diet itself or by any means meant to cure any diseases. However, they help supplement the diet until the diet gets back in track

What about herbs?

1. Vitamin A

People with anxiety may lack vitamin A. Vitamin A is an antioxidant that may help with anxiety [2]

2. B-complex

Vitamin B complex includes all the water-soluble B- vitamins that are our body use and excrete any excess amounts. Many are vital to a healthy nervous system. They may help improve symptoms of anxiety and depression [2]

3. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can help prevent oxidative damage in your nervous system. Oxidative damage can increase anxiety [2]

4. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an important nutrient that helps the body absorb other vitamins and minerals. Vitamin D deficiency may lead to other vitamin & mineral deficiencies, which may compound anxiety and make it worse [2]

5. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is another antioxidant. Your body uses this nutrient up quickly in times of stress and anxiety. Supplemental vitamin E may help restore this balance and reduce your symptoms [1]

6. Omega 3 fatty acid 

Omega 3 essential fatty acids are antioxidants. Omega-3 supplements like EPA and DHA have been studied and they show to help reduce anxiety.

7. Magnesium

Magnesium is a necessary mineral for human health. Your body doesn’t need too much of it. But if you aren’t getting enough, magnesium deficiency may lead to anxiety symptoms. 

Certain herbs contain phytochemicals (plant chemicals) = that may help ease symptoms associated with anxiety

  1. Ashwangandha (Withania somnifera) is an adaptogen and Ayurvedic remedy. Some research suggests that it may be just as effective as certain medications in reducing anxiety [3] 
  2. Chamomile comes from the Matricaria chamomilla or Chamaemelum nobile species. It’s widely accepted as a natural remedy for anxiety symptoms.
  3. St. John’s wort – the classic herb used for depression, St Johns Wart (Hypericum perforatum), is also used for anxiety. Current research that it’s better suited for depression-related anxiety. How St. John’s wort may help other forms of anxiety requires more research [5]

Consult with your healthcare provide before the use of any dietary supplements. 

Take-Away message: 

Although the research on supplements for anxiety is promising, it is very important to note that mental wellness is not only about popping pills. It is a far more complex area of medicine or health than that.  Before taking any dietary supplements, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider and or before adding anything new to your treatment regimen. The healthcare provider will discuss any potential risks or side effects, as well as adjust any medications that may cause an interaction. 

There is also a recommendation to adopt healthy lifestyle changes to help manage your symptoms. Most supplements aren’t recommended for: 

  • adults over age 65
  • women who are pregnant
  • children

If you do try a new supplement, carefully monitor the effects it has on your overall health. If you begin experiencing any unusual symptoms, such as heightened anxiety or stomach pains, discontinue use until you can talk with your doctor.

References: 

  1. Lewis JE, et al. (2013). The effect of methylated vitamin B complex on depressive and anxiety symptoms and quality of life in adults with depression. DOI: 
    10.1155/2013/621453
  2. Gautam M, et al. (2012). Role of antioxidants in generalized anxiety disorder and depression. DOI: 
    10.4103/0019-5545.102424
  3. Pratte MA, et al. (2014). An alternative treatment for anxiety: A systematic review of human trial results reported for the Ayurvedic herb Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera). DOI: 
    10.1089/acm.2014.0177
  4. Pyndt Jorgensen B, et al. (2015). Dietary magnesium deficiency affects gut microbiota and anxiety-like behaviour in C57BL/6N mice. DOI: 
    10.1017/neu.2015.1
  5. Apaydin EA, et al. (2016). A systematic review of St. John’s wort for major depressive disorder. DOI: 10.1186/2Fs13643-016-0325-2

Yours In Health

Mbali Mapholi

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