We may view our mind and body as separate things. However, multiple scientific researches have found associations between our mental and physical health.
Exercise has shown to improve mood and psychological well-being.1
On the other hand, a mental health condition “depression” has been linked to many chronic physical illnesses including diabetes, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and arthritis.
Thus, good physical health can improve mental health, while a poor mental health can negatively affect our physical health and well-being.
If you’re looking for holistic improvement, it’s important to take care of your mental health. In this article, we’ll discuss different aspects of mental health and how right supplementation could help improve it.
What is mental health?
Mental health is a crucial component of overall well-being. World Health Organization (WHO) says that mental health is a state in which an individual is aware of his abilities and fully productive while coping with the stresses of day-to-day life.
Good mental health is vital as it affects our thinking, feeling, and actions. It also influences our physical health and relationships.
There are three aspects of mental health:
- Emotional well-being
- Social well-being
- Psychological well-being
Mental health conditions
Mental health conditions may affect our mood, behaviour, and thinking. These can occur in the form of:
- Anxiety Disorders
- Bipolar Disorder
- Eating Disorders
Why is mental health important?
Maintaining positive mental health is necessary as it strikes into everything we do. It helps boost productivity and self-confidence and improve our relationships. Let’s discuss how mental health influences us.
Crucial for relationships
Mental health is essential for maintaining healthy relationships with our family and friends. It has been observed that people with mental health conditions usually tend to get aggressive frequently and face challenges in participating in social activities.
Affect physical health
Mental health conditions like stress and anxiety are associated with physical illnesses. For example, high-stress levels have been shown to impact appetite hormones and increase the cravings for foods high in fat and sugar. Due to this, people with elevated stress levels are more likely to suffer from obesity and eating disorders.
Better productivity and financial stability
There is always a high possibility that a person at peace will make decisions wisely. Good mental health can aid in better productivity and monetary stability. Studies also support that a safe and healthy environment may enhance the capacity to work productively with ease.
Support Immune Health
Researchers believe that emotions and stress influence immune function. During some mental health conditions, the immune response of the body decreases. For example, people with depression are more prone to increased inflammation and related disorders like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome.
In contrast, interventions that suppress stress and anxiety may help attain a balanced immune function.
Top 5 supplements for mental health
Like other organs, our brain also needs certain nutrients for normal functioning. One can promote smooth brain functioning by following a well-balanced diet and an active lifestyle. However, some dietary supplements may provide added benefits for our mental health.
Let’s discuss top supplements that have shown promising health benefits for our mental health.
Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera, is one of the best herbs for our brain health. Although it has numerous health benefits, ashwagandha is primarily recognized for its stress-relieving property.
These days stress is a part of almost everyone’s life. Studies 2 supports that ashwagandha decreases the stress hormone cortisol levels in the body and calms our nerves.
Including an ashwagandha supplement in a regular diet might help alleviate stress and anxiety. Additionally, people with an active lifestyle can benefit from ashwagandha as it supports muscle strength and energy levels.
Melatonin is a hormone synthesized by the retina. It is secreted by the pineal gland and is fondly called the sleep hormone. Melatonin secretion in the body works in accordance with our natural body clock.
Melatonin levels are low during the day, and as the day progresses, the level increases, making us feel sleepy. Melatonin supplements have recently gained popularity due to their potential to influence the sleep-wake cycle.
Melatonin supplements have been found effective in managing jet lag, sleep disturbances, insomnia, and other sleep-related issues. Studies 3 supports that one can take 1-5 mg of melatonin daily to enjoy its anti-depressive and anxiolytic effects.
Melatonin supplements are non-addictive and might be an effective alternative to sleep-inducing drugs without causing withdrawal symptoms.
The benefits of omega-3 fats for us are unquestionable. Omega-3 supplements are extensively consumed to manage blood cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation, and improve joint and skin health.
Omega-3 fats containing EPA and DHA also play a vital role in our brain health. They preserve cell membrane health and facilitate smoother communication among them 4.
Prolonged deficiency of omega-3 fats is linked with an increased risk of dementia, memory loss, and depression in the later life stages.
Opting for an omega-3 fish oil supplement can be one of the best investments for mental health. It can help secure dietary inadequacy and normal brain function and development.
Vitamin D is known for its muscle and bone strengthening and immunity-boosting ability. But lesser known is that optimal vitamin D levels are equally important for our mental health.
Several studies have correlated low vitamin D levels with an increased incidence of depression. It may affect our mood and behaviour and can impair cognitive function.
Vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent due to reasons like dark skin colour, environmental pollution, less sunlight exposure, dietary inadequacy, and many more. Hence, vitamin D supplementation is the most reliable way to maintain healthy vitamin D levels in the body.
The only caution required while taking vitamin D supplements is never to overdose on them.
ZMA supplements contain a balanced combination of magnesium, zinc, and vitamin B6. They are popular among fitness enthusiasts and professional athletes.
ZMA supplements have been shown to boost athletic performance and support muscle strength. Additionally, magnesium and zinc work wonders for our mental health. It calms the brain’s nerves and helps us feel relaxed. Similarly, vitamin B6 also facilitates brain health by boosting mood.
If you plan to begin with a ZMA supplement, take it as per the recommended dosage to enjoy the health benefits and avoid toxicity.
To sum up, it is imperative to be self-aware of the importance of mental health. Eating a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and regular sleep promote mental well-being. In addition, one can also include dietary supplements to cope with mental health difficulties and foster overall wellness.
Managing everyday stress and anxiety while maintaining ongoing happiness might sometimes seem complicated. But one must not overlook or ignore it as it significantly affects our energy levels, physical health, and social relationships.References
- Plante, T.G., Rodin, J. Physical fitness and enhanced psychological health. Current Psychology 9, 3–24 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02686764
- Chandrasekhar, K., Kapoor, J., & Anishetty, S. (2012, July). A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 34(3), 255–262. https://doi.org/10.4103/0253-7176.106022
- Tonon, A. C., Pilz, L. K., Markus, R. P., Hidalgo, M. P., & Elisabetsky, E. (2021, April 8). Melatonin and Depression: A Translational Perspective From Animal Models to Clinical Studies. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 12. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.638981
- Burhani, M. D., & Rasenick, M. M. (2017, December 13). Fish oil and depression: The skinny on fats. Journal of Integrative Neuroscience, 16(s1), S115–S124. https://doi.org/10.3233/jin-170072