Since childhood our parents have stressed upon the importance of a healthy and balanced diet with food full of nutrition. We all are aware about the benefits of various nutrients and specially those vitamins for our body along with the health issues caused due to the deficiency of these vitamins. Where we pay so much attention to our physical health, it is crucial to look after our mental health as well. Where vitamin deficiency can affect various organ systems and is something that can lead to many disorders let us take a moment to understand the impact of vitamin deficiencies and their impact on mental health. Sit back and read patiently to know about the importance of various vitamins and impact of deficiency of these vitamins on our health from Dr. Milan Balakrishnan, Consultant Psychiatrist, Masina Hospital, Mumbai.
Vitamin Deficiency and Mental Health
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It is high time that we all focus upon our mental health and the aspects that can have an impact on it. While talking about the importance of different vitamins and their impact on our mental health Dr. Balakrishnan explains that- “Vitamin deficiencies can masquerade as a lot of mental health issues, whether its deficiency of vitamin B, Vitamin B12 or Vitamin D. A deficiency of vitamin B and thiamine specifically can lead to depression, can produce some symptoms similar to forgetfulness, dementia, memory impairments along with some skin changes. Similar to this a deficiency of vitamin B12 and folate can result in lack of energy, lack of focus, lack of attention, feeling low, having low enthusiasm and low mood. Vitamin B12 and Folate play an important role in manifestation of depression. In many cases the patients of depression might have a comorbide deficiencies of these vitamins which may need to be supplemented as part of the treatment . Another vitamin deficiency that can masquerade as depression is that of vitamin D. An extremely common vitamin deficiency that most of us suffer due to staying in our house and getting very little sunlight. Most of the patients seem to have a comorbid vitamin D deficiency. The symptoms of a vitamin deficiency are usually low energy, lack of interest and enthusiasm along with low mood. Correction of vitamin D deficiency can help in improving mood to a great extent.” Let us take a step ahead and learn about the impact of these vitamin deficiencies on our mental health.
#1. Deficiency Of Vitamin B
In the group of vitamin B, there is a vitamin specifically known as thiamine that is important for our brain functioning and mental health. Our body uses this vitamin in order to convert the blood sugar or glucose into energy. This vitamin helps in providing energy to the brain and thus without this vitamin, the brain will suffer lack of energy and would not be able to function properly. As the deficiency of thiamine becomes a hindrance in the brain's normal functioning, hence it contributes to many mental health issues. The deficiency of this vitamin can lead to issues like depression, memory loss, anxiety, Alzhiemer’s insomnia and irritability along with low energy, fatigue, forgetfulness, dementia and memory impairment.
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A diet rich in vitamin B complex helps in boosting a person’s mental health. In order to correct the deficiency of Vitamin B a person should consume-
- Green Leafy Vegetables
- Meat Fish
#2. Deficiency of Vitamin B12
An essential nutrient that does not have just one but a lot many benefits for your body and mind. Vitamin B12 is something that your DNA and blood cells are made up of. The deficiency of this vitamin leads to the problem of oxygen transportation in blood which is commonly known as pernicious anemia. This disorder caused due to the deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to mental disorders like paranoia, dementia, irritability, hallucination and mood swings.
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With an adequate amount of Vitamin B12 along with folate, it enhances the production of dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine and serotonin are two hormones that play a crucial role in maintaining and regulating good mental health. As people in older age are at more risk of having this vitamin deficiency and suffer from the complications caused due to this deficiency, it is important to look after the adequate nutrition present in their diet. Including food items rich in vitamin B12 can help to prevent these mental health disorders. Food items that a person can include in their diet to prevent depression, dementia and mental health problems caused due to this deficiency are-
- Low fat milk
#3. Folic Acid
A synthetic form of folate, folic acid is a naturally occuring substance in Vitamin B. A deficiency of this nutrient can result in various psychiatric disorders like dementia, depression and schizophrenia. Folate is a nutrient that is required for proper functioning of the brain and the nervous system The deficiency of this essential nutrient can cause mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
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The food rich in folic acid that a person should consume to keep the mental health in check are-
- Green Leafy Vegetables
- Citrus fruits
#4. Vitamin D
If you are someone who loves to be indoors and have been protecting yourself from that sun in order to avoid tanning then you must know that this habit of yours can have a great impact on your mental health. Where vitamin D is an essential nutrient which comes with a lot amany health benefits and helps in the formation of strong bones, it has a lot to do with your mental health and state of mind. Vitamin D is a nutrient that is associated with depression and active mood disorders. This is a vitamin that is crucial for a person’s brain development and hence its deficiency can cause many issues and complications. A vitamin D can result in various mental health issues such as depression, low energy, lack of interest and enthusiasm along with low mood.
In order to correct the deficiency of this vitamin Dr. Balakrishnan suggests that one should take-
- Vitamin D supplements
- Adequate amount of sunlight in the morning for about 20-25 minutes.
Taking care of your health and mental health for that matter should be your top priority. A balanced diet is something that we require in order to stay fit, active and healthy, physically as well as mentally. Including food items rich in various nutrients in your regular diet will not just help to keep deficiencies at bay, but will also help to prevent any mental health disorder from occurring and can also prevent its complications.
With inputs from Dr. Milan Balakrishnan, Consultant Psychiatrist, Masina Hospital, Mumbai.