Monday, September 03, 2007

Vitamin And Mineral Deficiencies And Other Mental Disorders

When we think of the benefits of being sure that our daily consumption of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients reaches recommended daily intake levels, we usually think in terms of the physical health of the body.

However, it is important to be aware of the fact that deficiencies in the daily intake of vitamins and minerals can negatively impact our mental processes as well. Recent research has indicated that such deficiencies can even contribute to one of the most common mental disorders of all -- depression.

The Vitamin B complex is incredibly important to our mental well-being and functioning. Indeed, even relatively small deficiencies can have an adverse effect. Serious deficiencies can contribute to serious mental illnesses. In terms of mental health alone, the importance of making sure that that the daily diet meets the recommended daily intake levels of the Vitamin B complex cannot be overstated.

As an interesting aside, those with alcohol problems – often abused in an attempt to self-medicate for depression and the abuse of which often contributes to depression – are often suffering from Vitamin B complex deficiencies. That is because alcohol destroys Vitamin B in its various forms.

A lack of thiamine can lead to a lack of energy. This, in turn, can lead to deep fatigue, anxiety, depression and even to suicidal thoughts. It can bring on insomnia, which can exasperate each and every one of those symptoms. Serious deficiency in niacin has been clinically associated with such mental symptoms as cognitive slowness in regard to the processing of information, dementia, anxiety and psychosis.

Vitamin B5 has been found to play a role in the formation of hormones and other brain chemical processes that are related to mood. Deficiency can lead to feelings of stress and certain types of clinically diagnosed depression. Vitamin B6 is essential to the production of serotonin and dopamine. Long-term deficiencies in Vitamin B12 can lead to such mental disorders as serious mood swings, mania, paranoia, dementia, and even hallucinations.

Vitamin C also is important in the prevention or easing of depression. It is important to note that many common medications, both over the counter and prescription, can rob the body of Vitamin C, leading some doctors to recommend partnering such medications with Vitamin C supplements.

Deficiencies in a number of minerals have been associated with depression and other mental disorders. Among these are magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, and manganese. Some of these combine with other nutrients that are important in the formation and release of serotonin and other compounds directly related to mood.

Other mental symptoms associated with deficiencies in these essential minerals include paranoia, confusion, anxiety, depression, fatigue and tearfulness.

The brain, and thus our mental processes, is ruled by the chemical interactions that take place within it. These chemicals are delicately balanced, and nutrition plays an integral role both in the formation of these essential chemicals and the maintenance of their balance.

On every level of mental mood and functioning, it is absolutely necessary that we make sure to achieve the recommended daily intake levels of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Dietary supplements, when used according to recommended dosages, are a safe means of seeing to it that our minds perform at peak levels.

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