Is a Nutrient Deficiency Impacting Your Mental Health?

Is a Nutrient Deficiency Impacting Your Mental Health?

The Connection Between Food and Your Mood

It’s easy to get caught up with life and put your well-being on the back burner. But just like we pay attention to physical health, our mental health deserves the same care. And surprisingly, the most overlooked factor is nutrition. In a time when stress and anxiety seem ever-present, understanding the relationship between what we eat and how we feel has never been more important.

Keep reading to learn which nutrient deficiencies play a role in depression and other mental conditions. And by understanding this link, you can take better care of your mind and body. 

Understanding Nutritional Deficiencies

Most people underestimate the importance of the vitamins and minerals that keep our emotions in check. And when you factor in unhealthy eating habits and processed foods, mental health can take a hit without you even realizing it.

Nutrition and Mental Health

Your food choices directly influence how neurotransmitters work in your body. These neurotransmitters act as chemical messengers, responsible for regulating important functions like heart rate, appetite, and mood. So, when you’re missing out on essential nutrients, your brain’s ability to fight off oxidative stress and inflammation is weakened. 

You might be asking, "how does a deficiency even happen?" Well, there are a few ways it sneaks up on us:

  • Not eating enough nutrient-rich foods: Without whole, unprocessed foods in the diet, your brain might not get what it needs.
  • Trouble absorbing nutrients properly: Even if you’re eating the right foods, sometimes your body doesn’t absorb it well.
  • Dealing with specific medical conditions: Some health issues and/or medications can impact nutrient absorption.

The Gut-Brain Connection

A healthy gut lays the foundation for a healthy mind. But a deficiency can set off a chain reaction that affects your mental state. The gut is home to trillions of microbes that come together to form our gut microbiome. These tiny inhabitants play a crucial role in digesting food, synthesizing vitamins, and regulating neurotransmitters that impact our mood. But when our cells don’t get the nutrients they need, the microbiome suffers, leading to an imbalance that triggers inflammation and disrupts the gut-brain axis.

Omega-3 fatty acids, B-vitamins, and probiotics are essential for gut health and mental stability. So, when they’re in short supply, you could be at a higher risk of depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline.

5 Key Nutrient Deficiencies in Mental Health 

Let’s take a look at 5 key vitamins and minerals for mental health.


Ever wonder why sometimes you feel on top of the world while other times stress and anxiety take over? Meet serotonin and dopamine—your mood and stress regulators that depend on magnesium to do their job effectively. By keeping these neurotransmitters in check, magnesium brings a sense of calm and relaxation that can help tackle anxiety and depression head-on.

One crucial part of this process is the glutamate receptor site. Glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter, is essential for brain function– but too much of it can lead to overstimulation and mood swings. Magnesium binds to the receptor protein and prevents glutamate from causing any trouble. This means that neurotransmitter function takes a direct hit whenever we run low on magnesium, leading to serotonin, dopamine, and other brain chemical imbalances. The result? Emotional ups and downs, sky-high stress levels, and difficulty handling life’s challenges.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

Research shows omega-3s are linked to a happier mood, improved memory, and reduced stress. So, they’re not just good for our hearts, but our minds too! These essential fatty acids, specifically EPA and DHA, are integral components of brain cell membranes, aiding in communication between nerve cells. When our bodies lack omega-3s, the delicate balance of neurotransmitters is disrupted, leading to mood swings, cognitive impairment, and even anxiety or depression.

Unfortunately, the modern Western diet often falls short when it comes to omega 3s and other key nutrients. This imbalance can interfere with the fatty acid levels in the brain, where deficiencies have been linked to neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

B Vitamins:

The B vitamins are the most important vitamins for relieving stress, helping you sleep, and achieving calmness. They’re required in so many areas of the body that you can’t live without them. And while we often hear about their role in boosting energy and keeping our bodies in top shape, their impact on the mind is equally important.

B vitamins, which include B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12, team up to create essential neurotransmitters– serotonin, dopamine, and GABA, that directly affect your emotions and stress response. So, when there’s a deficiency in B1, B6, B9 (folate), or B12 specifically, it can lead to a range of mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and even memory loss down the line.

Vitamin D: 

Unsurprisingly, a beautiful, sunny day instantly lifts our spirits, but did you know there’s some science behind that feeling? When we soak up sunlight, our body produces vitamin D, which protects our brain’s neurons and encourages the growth of nerve cells. 

Research suggests vitamin D also directly impacts our brain’s neurotransmitter activity and gene expression, influencing how we feel and handle emotions. Notably, vitamin D can help combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that may creep in during the winter months when sunlight exposure is reduced. 

Vitamin C:

Vitamin C not only boosts your immune system but also plays a vital role in converting dopamine into another important neurotransmitter called norepinephrine. When our norepinephrine levels dip, we might feel down or anxious. 

Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E help your body fend off harmful free radicals that can damage brain cells and disrupt neurotransmitter function. In doing so, they aid in stabilizing mood, reducing stress, and promoting overall mental wellness.

How to Spot the Warning Signs of a Nutrient Deficiency

Nutritional deficiencies can silently sabotage your well-being and result in severe consequences if left unchecked. Learn to recognize early signs that your nutrition is off track such as:

  • Fatigue and Low Energy: Ever feel like you’re running on empty, no matter how much you sleep? Nutritional deficiencies, like iron or vitamin B12, could be the culprits behind your constant exhaustion. They play a vital role in energy production, and when they’re lacking, your energy (and mood) can take a nosedive.
  • Hair and Skin Issues: If you’re noticing more strands than usual in your brush or shower, it could point to something more. Nutrient deficiencies, such as vitamins A and C, biotin, essential fatty acids, zinc, or iron, can lead to increased hair loss, dry skin, and brittle nails.
  • Mood Swings and Irritability: Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and magnesium, can impact neurotransmitter function and contribute to mood swings and irritability.
  • Cognitive Problems: Memory problems and difficulty concentrating can be associated with lacking omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and specific B vitamins. 
  • Weak Immune System: If you seem to catch every cold and flu going around, it could be because of inadequate levels of vitamins A, C, D, and zinc, which play vital roles in wound healing and keeping our defenses strong.
  • Muscle Cramps: Magnesium, potassium, and calcium deficiencies can lead to muscle spasms and cramps.

What’s the Impact of Malnutrition at Different Stages of Life?

At every stage of life, proper nutrition plays a critical role in our mental well-being. 

Maternal Nutrition 

When a mom-to-be doesn’t get the essential nutrients she needs during pregnancy, it can have a lasting impact on the baby’s brain development and increase the risk of mental health issues in the future.


Proper nutrition is vital for children’s growth and development, and deficiencies in early life can have significant consequences. It may impair learning abilities, memory, and overall cognitive function during childhood. 


Adolescence – a time of growth, change, and mood swings. Nutritional deficiencies during this time can contribute to hormonal imbalances and disruptions that affect emotional well-being. Plus, these nutrient gaps can follow us into adulthood, leading to weakened immune health and higher vulnerability to chronic illnesses.


As we age, our bodies become less efficient at absorbing and using nutrients. These deficiencies can impact energy levels and cognitive function, increasing the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Eating for a Happier, Healthier Mind

The key to a balanced mind begins with what we put on our plates. Let’s explore easy and effective ways to boost your mental health with the right nutrition.

Mix It Up: 

Aim for a diverse diet by loading up on nutrient-rich foods like colorful fruits, veggies, probiotics, lean proteins, and healthy fats. This way your body receives the key essential vitamins and minerals needed for brain function.

Opt for Healthy Fats: 

Your body uses omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to build brain cell membranes, keeping your mind sharp and focused. Look for sources like fatty fish (wild-caught salmon and mackerel), flaxseeds, avocados, nuts, olive oil, and chia seeds to help reduce inflammation and promote overall brain health.

Power Up with Complex Carbs: 

Whole grains provide a steady stream of energy to keep your blood sugar levels stable. As a result, your brain stays alert and focused. Choose whole grains like quinoa, barley, oats, and brown rice, which also support serotonin production, the “feel-good” hormone. 

Eliminate Processed Foods: 

We all have our guilty pleasures, but try to limit your intake of sugary snacks, sodas, and refined carbs as much as possible. These can quickly send your energy and mood downhill, not what you want for a healthy mind!

Eat Mindfully:

Take your time and savor each bite mindfully. Being present while eating helps improve digestion and strengthens the connection between your mind and body.

Hydration is Key: 

Even mild dehydration can mess with your mood and cognitive function. When you’re hydrated, your brain functions at its peak, improving focus and reducing stress and anxiety.

Supporting Mental Health with Supplementation

Sadly, a healthy diet today may not provide enough minerals due to our nutrient-destroying farming and cooking practices. The problem is that even organically grown food is less nutrient-dense than a hundred years ago. Plus, many more nutrients are lost on the way from the farm to the grocery store (yet another reason you should buy locally). If you only eat from your own organic garden grown on pristine, well-fertilized soil year-round, then you may be getting enough.

Keep in mind, vitamins and minerals are the essential building blocks that fuel our brain’s processes. So, by incorporating targeted supplementation into your routine, you can stay ready to face daily stressors head-on. High-quality nutrient formulas work synergistically with the body (and a balanced diet) to promote a positive mood, reduce anxiety, and improve mental clarity.  

Note: Supplementation should complement a healthy lifestyle, not replace it. So, whether you’re managing stress or seeking a mood boost, incorporate a healthy balance of both for success!

Questions? Reach out to our Customer Service team to build a supplement plan that works for you.

Food for Thought

The connection between nutrition and mental health is undeniable. When we lack essential nutrients, it can disrupt our brain chemistry and lead to various mental health issues down the road. However, prioritizing nutrient-rich diets and addressing deficiencies allows us to make strides in nurturing a healthier mind and body at every age.