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Study finds vitamins boost mental health

Thursday, January 21st 2010

People with mental illness made "remarkable" improvements by taking a daily dose of nutritional supplements rather than conventional medicines, a trial has found.

The work by a Canterbury University clinical psychologist has shown the potential that consumption of the right micronutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids, could have for helping a range of mental health problems.

Many who took part in a trial with Associate Professor Julia Rucklidge showed improvements they had not shown under prescription drugs.

Dr Rucklidge said it should come as no surprise that micronutrients could affect psychiatric symptoms, as they were essential for the inner workings of the brain.

"It is possible that some individuals with mental illness either have deficiencies in nutrients or may need more for optimal brain functioning."

Dr Rucklidge's trial focused on sufferers of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which affects 3 to 5 per cent of adults.

In the trial, 14 adults with both ADHD and severe mood dysregulation (SMD) took a 36-ingredient micronutrient formula that consisted of mainly vitamins, minerals and amino acids, over eight weeks.

Significant improvements were found on measures of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness, mood, quality of life, anxiety and stress.

"Most of the individuals were in a moderate to severe depressed state at the start of the trial," Dr Rucklidge said..

"At the end of the eight weeks, the mean score on the depression measure fell in the normal non-depressed range, which is a fairly remarkable change in such a short time, especially as many had not experienced such improvements with other conventional treatments.

"Participants were monitored for a further two months and people who stayed on the micronutrient formula showed further improvements and the ones who came off showed regression in their symptoms."

Dr Rucklidge said another important finding of her work was that micronutrient treatment had few side effects in comparison to many of the mood stabilisers and stimulants used in conventional treatments.

Dr Lyndy Matthews, of the College of Psychiatrists, said there was a lack of scientific evidence to show micronutrients were an effective treatment for mental illness.

But she considered it very important for people being treated for mental illness to take care of their physical health, often directing her own patients to see a dietician.

The Mental Health Foundation welcomed another approach that could help treat mental illness, "particularly one that is more than just pharmaceutical products, and that people can work with themselves".


Drug treatments for mental illness, year ended June 2009

* Prescriptions for antipsychotic drugs: About 390,000

* Prescriptions for antidepressant drugs: About 1.23 million

By Jarrod Booker  Sourced from

Footnote from Ideal Health:

The following products are all helpful for a general feeling of wellbeing:

Opti CoQ10 150mg
Good Mood
Age Defence Resveratrol
Efamol Brain Active Memory
ENZO Brain Recovery Programme
Hi Strength Liquid Fish Oil
Fish Oil 1500mg - Odourless
Mega Magnesium Powder
Lecithin 1,200
Superior Magnesium
Super B Daily Stress
Vitamin B Complex

Related health information can be found here:

Blood Cleanse
Smart nutrients for your brain

Related articles can be found here:

Bilberry - a major antioxidant for the brain and eyes
Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo Biloba - quality process for world leader
Gotu Kola Herb "Food for the Brain"
Healthy eye & brain development for babies
Minerals: Critical for well-being
Studies find links to depression
Vitamin B100

If you need help or advice, you are welcome to email our naturopathic team with your health question.

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered. The information is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide medical advice to you. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.


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