Following a report by the BBC in which it was revealed that there has been a 77% rise in the number of children needing specialist treatment for severe mental health crisis, many parents are left wondering what more they can do to improve the mental health of their children when pressures in the world are mounting. Vegan vitamin brand Nutrigums registered nutritionist, Shona Wilkinson gives her advice on how taking vitamins and a balanced diet could help improve mental wellbeing.
It is common knowledge that vitamin supplements have the power to improve physical health. Calcium and vitamin D help the body build and maintain healthy bones, teeth, and muscles. But what many people don’t realise is that vitamins and nutritional dietary supplements have just as much power to maintain healthy brain function in both children and adolescents.
We know that children find it more difficult to articulate how they are feeling and therefore parents find it more difficult to spot the signs of anxiety and depression in children. Getting them the right nutrition and an overall healthy diet is imperative to keeping up a strong and balanced body and mind, but which vitamins are good for helping healthy brain function, easing anxiety and improving our children’s mental health?
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What are signs of poor mental health in children, and can vitamin supplements help?
Children’s mental health is a subject that is of great concern across the world, with many people left feeling hopeless when the carefree years of a child are tainted by poor mental health.
There are many signs that parents should look out for, including;
- Lack of sleep
- Inability to concentrate
- Withdrawing or avoiding social interactions
- Out-of-control or unordinary behaviour
- Changes to eating habits such as over or undereating
If you struggle to get your child to eat nutritional foods like fruit and vegetables, there are a multitude of nutritional supplements that are tasty and chewy, gummy vitamins for instance are just one form that are easier to swallow for children.
And, while it is important to note that there are many different reasons children can be suffering from poor mental health, introducing the right vitamins and a healthy diet could help combat the symptoms of poor mental health and reduce them significantly. Read on to discover the best vitamins for supporting mental health and brain function.
Vitamins and minerals that can help to improve mental health and wellbeing in children
Vitamin B supplements are regarded highly for common mental health concerns and supporting mood. They are known for their positive mood-altering qualities, fighting fatigue, improving memory, and allowing you to function with more clarity. B12 and folate (B9) are important vitamins for maintaining a healthy nervous system. Vitamin B12 and folate are needed for producing norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. Norepinephrine and serotonin are neurotransmitters in the brain which influence mental behavioural patterns and moods. Dopamine is another type of neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of pleasure, motivation, achievement, and stimulates your natural reward centre. Low levels of either of these chemicals can lead to symptoms of depression.
Commonly found in fruits and vegetables and a key component of orange juice, Vitamin C can play a vital role in mental health. Many people who are lacking in vitamin C report feeling depression or chronic fatigue. Conversely, even people with normal vitamin C levels in their system found that taking additional vitamin C improved their mood and cognitive function. Some research has also shown that vitamin C can help lower anxiety symptoms. So, for children, it could be as simple as incorporating more fruit into a packed lunch box or providing a simple glass of orange juice in the morning.
Vitamin D has been a buzzword around Covid-19 for all the wrong reasons. Rumours of it being a miracle cure were quickly debunked by scientists, but people should consider maintaining vitamin D levels as an important part of healthy brain function. Vitamin D deficiency is common amongst people who are suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). If you experience changes in mood during low sunlight months, vitamin D supplements could be especially beneficial to combat the symptoms of depression.
Zinc and Magnesium
The main problem we’re seeing in people around the world is micronutrient and mineral deficiencies which are a huge problem and can lead to many health conditions, including depression. Zinc is a mineral found throughout the human body, as well as in other animals. Research has shown that low zinc levels can lead to reduced brain function and other behavioural disturbances.
Zinc is especially effective in treating mental health conditions and depression when combined with magnesium, in which it has been shown that taking magnesium supplements can help regulate unhealthy gut microbes which contribute to many depressive symptoms we see in commonplace today.
Some studies have even shown that when combined with the proper medication, zinc has positive effects in treating ADHD.