A new international collaboration published in The Lancet Psychiatry is encouraging the fields of psychiatry and public health to recognize the relationships between diet quality, potential nutritional deficiencies, and mental health.

“Although the determinants of mental health are complex, the emerging and compelling evidence for nutrition as a crucial factor in the high prevalence and incidence of mental disorders suggests that diet is as important to psychiatry as it is to cardiology, endocrinology, and gastroenterology,” wrote the researchers.

On behalf of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research, Jerome Sarris, PhD, and colleagues presented an overview of the current evidence relating to diet and nutrition as key factors in mental health.

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Research now supports the notion of a nutrient-based prescription to assist in the management of mental disorders at the individual and population levels, including the link between brain health and omega-3s, B vitamins (particularly folate and B12), choline, iron, zinc, magnesium, S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe), vitamin D, and amino acids.

Other studies have found links between healthy dietary patterns and a reduced prevalence of and risk for depression and suicide across cultures and age groups. As well, maternal and early-life nutrition is an emerging factor in mental health outcomes in children; severe deficiencies in some essential nutrients during critical development periods have been implicated in the development of depressive and psychotic disorders.

A relationship between unhealthy dietary patterns and poorer mental health in children and adolescents was confirmed in a systematic review published in 2014.

The authors add that while it is preferable that these nutrients be consumed in the diet where possible, use of supplements may also be justified.


  1. Sarris J, et al. Lancet Psychiatry. 2015; DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(14)00051-0

This article originally appeared on Psychiatry Advisor