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Natural Awakenings Westchester / Putnam / Dutchess New York

Connecting Mental Health and Nutrition

Oct 31, 2023 09:31AM ● By Dr. Michael Wald, DC, CDN


Mental health and illness can have a significant impact on nutritional status, leading to deficiencies or imbalances in vitamins, minerals, herbs, proteins, carbohydrates and fats. These nutritional problems can further exacerbate mental health conditions and hinder the overall well-being of individuals. Understanding the relationship between mental health and nutrition is crucial for developing effective treatment strategies.

Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, special needs issues and body dysmorphia are some of the mental health conditions that can contribute to nutritional problems. Individuals with these conditions may experience changes in appetite, eating patterns or food preferences. For example, depression and anxiety can lead to decreased appetite or emotional eating, resulting in inadequate intake of essential nutrients.

Vitamins and minerals play a vital role in maintaining mental health. Deficiencies in B vitamins (B12, folate), vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to an increased risk of depression and other mental health disorders. Minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium and selenium are also important for proper brain function and mood regulation.

Proteins are essential for the synthesis of neurotransmitters that regulate mood and behavior. Inadequate protein intake can affect the production of these neurotransmitters, potentially worsening symptoms of mental illness.

Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for the brain. Imbalances in carbohydrate intake can impact mood stability and cognitive function. High consumption of refined carbohydrates may lead to blood sugar fluctuations and worsen symptoms of anxiety or depression.

Fats, particularly omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil and certain nuts and seeds, have been shown to have a positive effect on mental health. Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with an increased risk of depression and other psychiatric disorders.

To accurately determine an individual’s specific nutritional needs, blood detective laboratory testing can be utilized alongside a comprehensive health history assessment. These tests measure nutrient levels in the blood and identify any deficiencies or imbalances. By analyzing the results, healthcare professionals can tailor nutritional recommendations and dietary interventions to address the individual’s unique needs.

In conclusion, mental health conditions can contribute to nutritional problems, affecting the intake and absorption of essential nutrients. Understanding this relationship is crucial for developing effective treatment strategies. Blood detective laboratory testing, combined with a thorough health history assessment, can help determine an individual’s specific nutritional requirements and guide personalized dietary interventions.

Dr. Michael Wald is a chiropractor, life coach and board-certified nutritionist and dietitian. He has authored several books including The Anti-Aging Encyclopedia of Lab Tests. Wald is in private practice in Chappaqua, NY. For more information or to make an appointment, call 914.552.1442, email [email protected] or visit