Vitamins and mineral supplements boost energy and improve mood
If you’re prone to depression or have anxiety, taking vitamins and mineral supplements can help by boosting mental energy and a sense of general well-being, according to a panel discussion at the 2013 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo® at McCormick Place.
It has been known for centuries that food affects mental health. In the United States, the number of people on disability for mental illness has tripled since 1987. Effectively managing stress is positively correlated to mental well-being. But chronic, untreated stress causes a decline in mental health that can then lead to depression, anxiety and other psychological disorders.
That does not mean, however, that everyone needs to meet with a psychiatrist to address their stress levels and mental issues.
During the session “Diet, Mental Energy, and Mental Well-Being: A Landscape Overview of the Science and Consumer Perceptions,” speakers suggested that a change in dietary patterns may be more effective than psychiatric medications to address mental health issues.
Indeed, vitamins and mineral supplements can be used as an alternative to pharmaceuticals like antidepressants and tranquilizers to relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety, said Bonnie Kaplan, Ph.D., professor in the faculty of medicine at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada.
Kaplan said that the supplements can also provide the mental energy necessary to manage stress, enhance mood and reduce fatigue.
According to Kaplan, the number one cause of acquired insanity is imperfect nutrition, but with the growth of psychiatric medications in the 1950s, psychiatrists moved away from addressing mental issues through dietary intervention.
Studies show that people who eat Western diets high in processed foods have more mood and anxiety symptoms. Studies also show that people who eat a Mediterranean-style diet have a lower incidence of mood and anxiety symptoms. Even in people already diagnosed with having a mental disorder, a higher intake of vitamins and minerals can lead to better outcomes, Kaplan said.
Kaplan recently conducted a series of studies in Canada involving 97 adults with diagnosed mood disorders who kept a three-day food record, and she found that those with a higher intake of vitamins and minerals were significantly correlated with overall enhanced mental functioning.
Specific vitamins that have been known to enhance mood include 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5 HTP), Vitamins B and D, as well as ginkgo biloba and Omega 3, said C.J. Geiger, Ph.D., president of Geiger & Associates, LLC, and research associate professor in the division of nutrition at the University of Utah.
In Geiger’s research, she found that most adults report their energy throughout the day peaks at mid-morning, falling to a valley in the afternoon after lunch, then recovering with a pickup in late afternoon before settling back down before bedtime.
However, Geiger found that these peaks and valleys varied depending on gender, age and climate. What kind of food you eat and when also is a factor, as she pointed out that many adults are known to use coffee, soft drinks, chocolate and candy bars, as well as energy drinks, bars and chews with high sugar to boost or maintain energy throughout the day.
On the other hand, some adults in Geiger’s study ate more frequent, smaller meals to sustain energy while making time for lots of rest and exercise.
Considering that 80% of children and 70% of adults consume less than five servings of vegetables and fruits per day, and that these poor dietary habits could have lasting consequences on the mental stability of society, it makes sense to start incorporating a healthy lifestyle now rather than later – and one that includes regular exercise, healthy food choices, proper rest, and vitamin and mineral supplements if necessary.