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Minerals and Vitamins...a breakdown


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How Minerals and Vitamins can effect your Mental Health.

Minerals, vitamins and mental health.


  • Iron 
    • Iron is involved in the synthesis of serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA (gamma-amino-butyric-acid; a relaxing neurotransmitter) and vitamin B3 (niacin).
    • Iron deficiency may result in imbalances in other minerals important in mental health (including zinc and copper), reduction of the blood oxygen carrying capacity and increased absorption of the toxic metal lead.
    • Iron deficiency can contribute to hypothyroidism, which can contribute to altered mental state. This is due to irons role in the conversion of phenylalanine to tyrosine (a precursor of thyroid hormones).
    • While iron is required for the action of antioxidant enxyme catalase, excess iron can contribute to oxidative stress.
    • Depression is often a symptom of chronic iron deficiency. Other symptoms include general weakness, listlessness, exhaustion, lack of appetite, and headaches.
  • Zinc
    • Zinc is a cofactor for over 200 different enzymes, including some important in the synthesis of serotonin, norepinephrine and GABA (gamma-amino-butyric-acid).
    • Zinc promotes the development of brain cells, regulates copper levels and eliminates candida (fungal infection).
    • Zinc is required for the metabolism of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), with zinc deficiency contributing to hypothyroidism.
    • Zinc is antagonistic to heavy metals which can potentially impair mental health (cadmium, lead, mercury).
    • Adequate zinc is require for an optimum balance of progesterone, estrogen and testosterone.
    • Inadequacies result in apathy, lack of appetite, and lethargy. When zinc is low, copper in the body can increase to toxic levels, resulting in paranoia and fearfulness.
  • Copper
    • Excess copper plays a role in a subgroup of people, particularly women, suffering from depression.
    • Some copper is required for the synthesis of norepinephrine and other chemicals important in mental health.
    • Copper is involved in reducing levels of histamine (a neurotransmitter important in mental health).
    • The enzyme monoamine Oxidase (MAO) which plays a role in the degradation of norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine and serotonin, requires copper as a cofactor.
    • Copper is involved in the synthesis of myelin, a lipid rich coating that surrounds and insulates nerve fibers.
    • The enzyme diamine oxidase, which breaks down histamine, requires copper as a cofactor. High copper lowers histamine levels.
  • Magnesium
    • Magnesium is involved in over 300 metabolic reactions including in serotonin and norepinephrine synthesis.
    • Deficiency symptoms are varied and include irritability, sleep disturbances, depression, personality changes, fatigue, anxiousness, and hallucinations, as well as a variety of physical problems. Most diets do not include enough magnesium, and stress also contributes to magnesium depletion and muscle tremors.
    • Histamine synthesis is increased when magnesium is deficient.
  • Calcium
    • Calcium indirectly enhances the synthesis of serotonin.
    • Calcium helps regulate histamine production. 
    • Depletion affects the central nervous system. Low levels of calcium cause nervousness, apprehension, irritability, and numbness.
  • Chromium
    • Chromium regulates the effects of insulin, enhancing its metabolic effects. Excess insulin can contribute to hypoglycemia and hypothyroidism (insulin can inhibit thyroid function), both of which can contribute to impaired mental health.
  • Manganese: This metal is needed for proper use of the B-complex vitamins and vitamin C. Since it also plays a role in amino-acid formation, a deficiency may contribute to depression stemming from low levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine. Manganese also helps stabilize blood sugar and prevent hypoglycemic mood swings.
  • Potassium: Depletion is frequently associated with depression, tearfulness, weakness, and fatigue.


  • Vitamin C 
    • Involved in both serotonin and norepinephrine synthesis.
    • High dose vitamin C reduces copper levels and some heavy metals (lead, cadmium, mercury) and other toxins detrimental to brain health.
    • Water soluble antioxidant involved in numerous metabolic reactions.
    • Large doses of vitamin C may have an anti-histamine effect.
    • Subclinical deficiencies can produce depression, which requires the use of supplements. Supplementation is particularly important if you have had surgery or an inflammatory disease. Stress, pregnancy, and lactation also increase the body's need for vitamin C, while aspirin, tetracycline, and birth control pills can deplete the body's supply.
  • Vitamin E
    • May protect fatty components of brain tissue from free radicals and peroxidation.
    • Deficiency is associated with neurological deterioration.
    • May protect dietary omega-3 fatty acids from peroxidation.
    • One study found people with major depression had significantly lower vitamin E levels than controls.
  • Folate (folic acid)
    • Involved in serotonin, norepinephrine and histamine synthesis.
    • One review reported that as many as 15-38% of adults diagnosed with depression may be deficient or borderline in folate. 
    • As supplemental folic acid can raise histamine levels and should be avoided by individuals with high histamine levels.
    •  This B vitamin is needed for DNA synthesis. It is also necessary for the production of SAM (S-adenosyl methionine). Poor dietary habits contribute to folic acid deficiencies, as do illness, alcoholism, and various drugs, including aspirin, birth control pills, barbiturates, and anticonvulsants. It is usually administered along with vitamin B12, since a B12 deficiency can mask a folic acid deficiency. Pregnant women are often advised to take this vitamin to prevent neural tube defects in the developing fetus.
  • B12 (cobalamin)
    • B12 is essential for the health of the central nervous system. A deficiency can result in impaired synthesis of myelin (fatty substance that insulates nerves), impaired synthesis of nerve sheaths and an imbalance of hormone like molecules in nerve tissue. These impairments result in neurological symptoms.
    • B12 is also involved in the synthesis of a compound, called SAM-e, which donates a chemical group in the synthesis and breakdown of neurotransmitters.
    • B12 deficiency results in the trapping of folate in a form unusable to the body leading to symptoms of folate deficiency.
    • One review found as many as 30% of patients hospitalized for depression were deficient in B12.
    • A study of older women found 17% of the 100 mildly depressed subjects, and 27% of the 122 severely depressed women where deficient in B12. The subjects with vitamin B12 deficiency were 2.05 times as likely to be severely depressed as were non-deficient subjects.
    • The normal B12 serum reference range in the US is 200-900 pg/ml while that in Japan is 500-1300 pg/ml. Some physicians, such as John Dommisse M.D. question the reference range and recommend people maintain serum levels above 600 pg/ml. Further research is needed to clarify this, in the meantime it may be best to be on the safe side.
    • Because vitamin B12 is important to red blood cell formation, deficiency leads to an oxygen-transport problem known as pernicious anemia. This disorder can cause mood swings, paranoia, irritability, confusion, dementia, hallucinations, or mania, eventually followed by appetite loss, dizziness, weakness, shortage of breath, heart palpitations, diarrhea, and tingling sensations in the extremities. Deficiencies take a long time to develop, since the body stores a three- to five-year supply in the liver. When shortages do occur, they are often due to a lack of intrinsic factor, an enzyme that allows vitamin B12 to be absorbed in the intestinal tract. Since intrinsic factor diminishes with age, older people are more prone to B12 deficiencies.
  • B1 (thiamine)
    • Thiamine deficiency can induce depression and irritability.
    • High dose thiamine may increase levels of monoamines (serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine) by inhibiting monoamine oxidase.
    • The brain uses this vitamin to help convert glucose, or blood sugar, into fuel, and without it the brain rapidly runs out of energy. This can lead to fatigue, depression, irritability, anxiety, and even thoughts of suicide. Deficiencies can also cause memory problems, loss of appetite, insomnia, and gastrointestinal disorders. The consumption of refined carbohydrates, such as simple sugars, drains the body's B1 supply.
  • B2 (riboflavin),
    • Deficiency can induce depression.
    • Involved in norepinephrine synthesis.
  • B3 (niacin)
    • Involved in serotonin and norepinephrine synthesis.
    • Deficiency symptoms include depression, disorientation and memory loss.
    • May decrease allergic responses.
    • Pellagra-which produces psychosis and dementia, among other symptoms-was eventually found to be caused by niacin deficiency. Many commercial food products now contain niacin, and pellagra has virtually disappeared. However, subclinical deficiencies of vitamin B3 can produce agitation and anxiety, as well as mental and physical slowness.
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid):Symptoms of deficiency are fatigue, chronic stress, and depression.Vitamin B5 is needed for hormone formation and the uptake of amino acids and the brain chemical acetylcholine, which combine to prevent certain types of depression.
  • B6 (pyridoxine)
    • Involved in serotonin and/or norepinephrine synthesis.
    • Involved in the synthesis of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
    • Deficiency symptoms include irritability, depression, and confusion.
    • This vitamin aids in the processing of amino acids, which are the building blocks of all proteins and some hormones. It is needed in the manufacture of serotonin, melatonin and dopamine. Vitamin B6 deficiencies, although very rare, cause impaired immunity, skin lesions, and mental confusion. A marginal deficiency sometimes occurs in alcoholics, patients with kidney failure, and women using oral contraceptives. MAOIs, ironically, may also lead to a shortage of this vitamin. Many nutritionally oriented doctors believe that most diets do not provide optimal amounts of this vitamin.
  • Biotin
    • Deficiency symptoms include depression.

This information is not intended to replace "traditional" mental health therapy. If you have questions or concerns about your physical and/or mental health ... contact your family physician and/or mental health professional in your area.