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General Health

6 Supplements For Mental Health, According To Science

February 25, 2022

By 

An estimated 1 in 5 adults in the United States has experienced a mental illness such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.[1]

Treatments such as prescription medication, counseling and peer support groups can help alleviate common symptoms such as feeling sad or withdrawn, trouble concentrating, intense worries and sudden, overwhelming fear.[2] Alternative therapies, including supplements for mental health, can also be quite effective.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The annual campaign helps raise awareness and educate the public about the prevalence of mental illness. It should also serve as a reminder that treatments, including a significant number of mental health supplements that are both safe and effective, are available.

Omega 3 fatty acids:

Polyunsaturated fatty acids or PUFAs, including omega-3 fatty acids like the ones found in Ultra Pure Fish Oil 800, are believed to provide a protective effect on the brain and are often used in the treatment of anxiety and depression.[3]

Research shows that low lefts of PUFAs might increase the risk of developing depression or anxiety and dietary supplements could provide a drug-free way to prevent these diagnoses.[4]

Among those with schizophrenia, a supplement containing omega-3 fatty acids was associated with a 50 percent improvement in the severity of symptoms, including depression, compared to those who received a placebo.[5]

Magnesium:

A magnesium deficiency could reduce serotonin levels, increasing the risk of depression. The mineral has been removed from most processed foods, making dietary supplements a popular option for increasing magnesium levels.[6]

Thanks to its antidepressant effects, magnesium has been used to treat mood disorders for almost a century, making it a popular herbal supplement for mental health.[7]

Research showed that taking a supplement containing 500 milligrams of magnesium—the amount found in Triple Mag—four times per day for six weeks was associated with significant improvements in symptoms of mild-to-moderate depression and generalized anxiety.[8] Those taking magnesium supplements noticed an improvement in their mood in as little as two weeks.

Vitamin B12:

B vitamins, found in foods like shellfish, eggs, red meat and yogurt, keep the neurons in the brain firing correctly and deficiencies in B vitamins, especially B1, B3, B6, B9 and B12, have been linked to depression.[9]

Adding a dietary supplement such as a B-Complex Supplement or vitamin B12 could help improve the symptoms of depression. A study published in the Open Neurology Journal found that patients with “low normal” B12 levels who received a supplement containing 1000 micrograms of vitamin B12 once per week for six weeks in addition to their antidepressant medications showed significant improvements in their symptoms.[10]

Probiotics:

Beneficial bacteria such as lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium help keep digestive health in check. These probiotics also work on the gut-brain axis, which connects the gut to the central nervous system, leading researchers to study beneficial bacteria like those found in Ultra Purer Probiotic 18 as a potential antidepressant treatment.[11] 

Among those with major depressive disorder, taking a dietary supplement containing lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium was linked to improvements in mood, according to research published in the journal Nutrition.[12] Improving the gut microbiome through probiotic supplementation has also been associated with an 86 percent rate of effectiveness for reducing anxiety.[13]

Lithium:

Lithium has a long history of being used to treat mental health issues such as depression and bipolar disorder.[14] The metal acts as a mood stabilizer, providing neuroprotective effects that limit the impact of bipolar disorder on the brain.[15]

Lithium orotate, a form of lithium, can be used in lower doses with excellent results and lower side effects. In clinical trials, taking a dose of 150 milligrams of lithium orotate per day at least four times per week showed significant reductions of both mania and depression among those diagnosed with bipolar disorder.[16]

Though lithium is primarily used to treat bipolar disorder, it also shows some effectiveness in the treatment of depression. Adding a dietary supplement containing lithium has been shown to help alleviate symptoms among those not getting sufficient results from antidepressant medication alone.[17]

St. John’s wort:

The flowers from this deciduous shrub are used to make herbal supplements used in the treatment of depression. Several studies have found St. John’s wort to be as effective as antidepressants for alleviating the symptoms of depression. Compared to widely used prescription selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, the extract had much lower rates of side effects, making it one of the best supplements for mental health.[18]

Supplements like Hypericum Extract 0.3%, extracted from the popular herb commonly known as St. John's Wort, has been shown to be superior to placebo for treating mild to moderate depression, and remission rates were similar to treatment with antidepressant medications.[19],[20]

During Mental Health Awareness Month, talk to your healthcare provider about the effectiveness of herbal supplements for mental health to treat diseases such as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder.


[1] https://www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Infographics/NAMI-You-Are-Not-Alone-FINAL.pdf
[2] https://www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Infographics/NAMI-Warning-Signs-FINAL.pdf
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6087749/
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6087749/
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26679763
[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507265/
[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507265/
[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5487054/
[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27655070
[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3856388/
[11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5319175/
[12] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0899900715003913
[13] https://gpsych.bmj.com/content/32/2/e100056
[14] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3712976/
[15] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29310970
[16] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3718672
[17] https://www.uptodate.com/contents/unipolar-depression-in-adults-treatment-with-lithium
[18] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4946846/
[19] https://systematicreviewsjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13643-016-0325-2
[20] https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/major-depressive-disorder/cautious-thumbs-st-johns-wort

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