· By PYM STORE
What Nutrients Do We Need to Achieve Optimal Mental Health?
The drive to eating well and getting proper nutrients is most often for better results in physical health. And while we fully support that, we also want to make sure you know that nutrition plays a major role in your mental health, too.
Take a moment to think – your brain never stops, even when you’re sleeping. Your brain is like a shark, always moving, always on the go, always doing what it can to survive.
And how do you think your brain is able to do all it does? It is in charge of:
- Motor skills
- Body temperature
- And every other process that regulates the body in any way.
The brain has some seriously big jobs that require the right fuel to keep it running, and running at its best.
To help ensure that your brain is getting what it needs to keep your brain and your body healthy, here are the key nutrients you need to start incorporating into your life today.
Nutrients for Mental Health
If you aren’t convinced yet that nutrition plays a key role in your mental health, then consider studies that have been done that look at the diet of people who suffer from depression. These studies show that the nutrition of depressed people is “far from adequate.” In fact, some people may actually be reaching for food that makes their depression even worse.
Between studies such as this and the realization that your brain needs nutrient-rich fuel to run off of, it makes sense to come to the conclusion that in order to have optimal mental health, you need to have the right nutrients.
And what essential nutrients do you need to keep your mental health at its best? Let’s get into it.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
A crucial link between omega-3 fatty acids and mental health exists due to some interesting research. Scientists found that depression is less of an issue in areas of the world where fish are a major part of the diet (e.g. Mediterranean countries). This led to further research and the discovery that a lack of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with an increased risk of a variety of psychiatric disorders including:
- Bipolar disorder
Thus, by ensuring you have enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, you decrease your chances of mental health issues. That’s because omega-3s are easily able to travel through the blood brain barrier where they interact with parts of the brain that are responsible for mood. In addition to that, omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that may help alleviate symptoms of depression.
Which foods are rich in omega-3 fatty acids?
To boost your mental health strength, you need omega-3 fatty acids. They are most commonly and easily found in the following foods:
- Fish (especially salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, sardines, oily fish, and other cold-water fatty fish)
- Nuts (walnuts)
- Seeds (flaxseeds, chia seeds)
If these foods are not an option for you or if you’d like a quicker and easier way to get the omega-3 fatty acids your brain needs, you can always receive similar health benefits from omega-3 supplements.
The category of B vitamins are known for their role in brain health and mood. These vitamins also help with:
- Energy production
- DNA/RNA synthesis
- DNA/RNA repair
- Neurochemical synthesis
- Stress reduction
- And more
Thus, in order to have your brain function at its peak, your body needs sufficient B vitamins.
There are seven different B vitamins:
- Thiamine (vitamin B1)
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
- Niacin (vitamin B3)
- Panthothenic acid (vitamin B5)
- Pyridoxine (vitamin B6)
- Folate (vitamin B9)
- Cobalamin (vitamin B12)
Which foods are rich in B vitamins?
It’s possible to get your B vitamins from your diet. In order to do this, you want a diet that is rich in:
- Meat (especially liver)
- Citrus fruits
- Leafy greens
- Nutritional yeast
However, you can also turn to supplements to give your body a vitamin B boost.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein in your body which means that your body needs them in order to make protein. Here’s an example to help explain further.
When you eat a piece of steak, your body breaks down the protein in the steak and creates the amino acid L-tyrosine in order to produce dopamine. And, balanced dopamine levels are important to balanced mental health. Thus, there is a direct connection between amino acids and mental health.
Scientists have found that the following amino acids have the power to help treat depression as well as other mood disorders:
Which foods are rich in amino acids?
Your body creates some amino acids on its own, but there are nine essential amino acids your body cannot produce on its own, so they must be consumed through diet.
Here are the best foods to eat in order to boost your amino acid intake:
- Animal proteins
You can also turn to supplements to get your amino acids.
To optimize your brain health, ensure that you are getting plenty of the above nutrients. While proper nutrition and sufficient nutrients aren’t a cure-all for mental health issues, they play an undeniably major role in brain health that make them well worth it.